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We Also Are Men(Acts 14:15)

---By Joseph Wang

After having announced the gospel in Lystra, Derbe, and the surrounding region, and particularly healed a lame man from his mother's womb, apostles Paul and Barnabas were called as gods by the local people. Moreover, the priest of Zeus even wanted to offer a sacrifice to them with the crowds. But the apostles immediately tore their garments, saying in correcting and admonishing the people, "We also are men", not gods, and followed with a brief yet very effective message (Acts 14:6~18).

Acts 12:21~23 tells us another interesting story regarding the king Herod. When he sat on the judgment seat and delivered a public address, the people cried out in saying that such is the voice of god and not of a man. Herod did not immediately reject it, nor correct the crowds, nor give the glory to God, rather, he seemed to be enjoying and accepting such flattering and blaspheming words. Right there, he was struck down and eventually eaten by worms and expired.

These two cases are similar in the beginning, yet their endings are as different as heaven and earth. They together give us a clear, vivid and important lessen to learn.

We are just human beings, not the almighty God. We should not and cannot pretend to be able to do everything and to know everything. Superman" has never existed. Of course, one may do and know more than others, nevertheless, we must know the limits of our abilities, knowledge, wisdom and so forth. This should be as clear as crystal to us.

It is quite possible that the one who speaks may just intend or motivate to please a certain person, yet, he may cross the limit already. In other words, what he said is untrue, exaggerating and even becomes flattery. In the political field as well as the religious field this could be going further as blaspheming to God.

Most of the flattering words are traps or pitfalls. They are just so sweet to others' ears and so hard for others to reject. Because man is, more or less, of his vain-glory and the vain-glory usually is more than what he hopes for. There is no secret that the flattering words are usually sort of "having an ax to grind". This is true everywhere and all time.

In our daily life, of course, we should always respect one another, but not overly do. Otherwise, it would eventually turn out to blindly adore and follow someone, even to deify him in a certain extent. This has happened in China as well as in foreign countries, in ancient and present political and religious worlds. Such blaspheming words or behavior surely will offend our God and rob His glory. Sooner or later, God will react according to His divine rule. This is indeed too serious, shameful and fearful.

We may encourage and advise one another to learn and improve ourselves as follows:

1. Check and flee our vainglory. Slow to react (cf. James 1:19). Play cool and keep cool. It is said that whenever the Roman emperor Julius Caesar came back in triumph, people in the city of Rome would come out to line up on the street to welcome him. However, he always assigned one attendant sitting beside him to remind him in saying "This is just ephemeral (like smoke and clouds passing before the eyes)", thus made him cool and keeping cool. As king Solomon declared: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Eccl 1:2). Indeed, nothing will last. Only the word of God abides forever (1Peter 1:25; Matt 24:25).
2. Remember that never rob the glory of God, but do all to the glory of God (1Cor 10:31).
3. Call the name of the Lord to escape the trap situation.
4. In case we fall, immediately confess and repent to the Lord. Amen.