When Paul and Barnabas first came to the turkish city Lystra, they began to heal the sick and crippled. Their miraclulous works were meant to give divine authority to their preaching, but instead it caused something quite different in the people of Lystra: the local priests began to yell, “The gods have come down to us in the likeliness of men!” (Acts 14:11) They called Paul Hermes, and Barnabas Zuess; then tried to sacrifice animals to them. It all happened so suddenly that Paul and Barnabas faced an incredibly difficult question: who will get the glory in ministry?
It might sound strange, but I suspect it was probably tempting for Paul and Barnabas to take pride in their miracles and bask in their worship. This is a temptation in all ministry when the spirit gives us a gift, whether it’s teaching, counseling, leading, singing, relating, or organizing.
When people see the abilities God blessed us with they compliment us. When this happens we’re tempted to take pride in our abilities, rather than returning the glory to God in our hearts.
Paul and Barnabas, however, saw through this temptation and told the men of Lystra, “We are also men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news that you should turn from these vain things to a living God.” Paul and Barnabas awknowledged that their abilities were not their own, but rather gifts from God. In doing so, they turned the glory from themselves to the living God.
In our lives we need to fight to give the glory to God for our spiritual gifts. Seeing God’s power, rightly attributed to him, both helps both us and others increase in faith.