I’ve been thinking a lot about King Solomon lately, probably because I’m reading through 1 Kings. Here was a man who had all the wisdom in the world, and built the most glorious things man has ever crafted…yet in all his beauty, his works couldn’t compare to a single wildflower in God’s vast creation. While Solomon started out strong for God, even building the temple, in his later years his faith wavered as he allowed his foreigns wives to seduce him into the false worship of false gods. I always wondered how someone so smart could be so stupid.
Solomon’s real problem was that he wasn’t a man after God’s own heart like his father, David. His heart bowed to his wives, idols, and everything else under the sun, none of which was all that new. He realized (too late) that chasing after all these foolish things was like chasing after the wind. He took the gifts God bestowed on the Davidic dynasty to bring glory to himself, not God. For example, it took Solomon seven years to build the temple, but 13 years to build his own palace. While Solomon didn’t skimp on temple construction and made it exactly to God’s specifications, it seems odd that the human king would have fancier digs than the King of Kings. It was a very concrete expression of what Solomon was storing up in his heart–things for himself.
As I was pondering all this, I became angry at the vast amounts of gold Solomon wasted bringing glory to himself. I mean, how many digital cameras could I have bought with one of the golden goblets he drank out of at his dinner table? However, I realized that this wasn’t about money, not for me; it was about stolen glory. It was about how you and I can be glory thieves, how we take the amazing things that God has given us to focus on ourselves.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve told stories and by middle school I was writing pretty phenomenal stories. Few question my writing skills and assure me that I have been gifted by God to write. In all these compliments, sometimes I doubt my skill and sometimes I think I’m pretty amazing. I mean, look at all those wanna-be writers out there, right? They only wish they could write like me. Then I stop myself. As soon as it becomes about me, it stops being about God’s glory. Truly, God has only given me the gift of writing to bring glory to Him, whether I am writing directly about Him or cleverly recapping “American Idol” for the blogosphere. The point is, whatever I do, needs to be tempered by my desire to follow Him and honor His Name (which is above all names).
I often tell people that I write because there’s nothing else I can do. It is in writing that I find myself and feel closest to God. I love to collect stories, retell them, and fiddle with words. The capacity to use words to encourage or rebuke to show love or bring forth a message of hate–that is powerful. Therefore, I try not to use words foolishly, but I do…we all do. Yet even in my fallen state, God chooses me to be a scribe, His scribe. So often I forget that it’s not about me.
A college student recently asked me if I do anything to get into the “writing” mood. I told her that I am more eager to write on some days, but there is something I do before I write articles. I pray that every word that comes forth from my fingertips and onto the computer screen is tempered with God’s wisdom. Sure, I’m a great writer, but I can never take all the credit (or any of it really) because God gives me the words; I’m just fortunate to be the one who gets to take them down. And when my writing isn’t up to par, I could be having an “off” day, and sometimes it’s just that I didn’t ask God to give me the words to say…therefore I come up short.
It’s so tempting to steal the glory from God, so that we can hear the praises of man. Accepting compliments and encouragement is perfectly acceptable, but when we forget who we are and Who has created us, we run into trouble. We are in danger of being glory thieves. Like Solomon, our kingdoms can be covered in gold, but God might be robbed of His praise.
For a very interesting book on this subject, check out Desiring God by John Piper.