Written by: Thabiti Anyabwile
Sunday as the pastor fenced the communion table and led us in a prayer of confession he asked forgiveness for “glory thieves.”
The Lord raised a strong but gentle index finger to my heart and said, “Thou art the man.” I knew it right away. Guilty. I steal glory and rob God of His fame.
Not, of course, through formal theology. Of course not. I know God alone deserves glory.
Not through public statement. Certainly not. I would never say out loud, “I want glory for myself.”
Not by boasting and peacocking. Perish the thought. I’ve been trained and socialized to be repulsed by public displays of pride.
But quietly. Inwardly. Stealthily. I crave glory. It has many names: recognition, fame, influence, usefulness, and faithfulness. Almost any positive regard will do as camouflage for a glory thief. The more respectable the term, the better it cloaks from men what God sees perfectly.
People steal for one reason: hunger. It could be literal hunger driving a child to pocket a piece of fruit at the market. Or it could be spiritual hunger–compulsion, covetousness–driving the soul to take. Not being physically hungry doesn’t keep us from spiritual craving. The sinful heart longs for glory.
So I slice off small pieces, hoping no one sees the cake has been cut, the bread torn, the sip taken. I place the missing amount in the hardest to see position. Then I suck on that glory until my next chance to slice, pinch or sip. Glory is best stolen in small secret portions.
But God doesn’t share His glory with another. He takes it back, usually yelling, “Stop thief!” We freeze in the light of His face. Caught on tape. Mouth covered in chocolate. Hands red with shekinah. “Thought art the man.”
We make our appeal for grace. Confess. Repent. Loathe ourselves. Promise to live for his glory alone. Out on the gospel’s parole, we soon find ourselves with our old friends: vanity, pride, haughtiness, self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. We start stealing again. We start basking in Another’s glory as if it were our own. We return to our vomit.
“Love me world. Like me friend. Applaud me church. See what I did–of course, I mean God, but me too a little bit. Give me glory–just a little.” I want to sit on the right hand or the left hand, either is fine. I’ll ask (or send my mom to ask) when I think others aren’t looking.
I’m such a bad thief–my Lord and my heart keep catching me. May they keep catching me until I’m rehabilitated!