The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good

Day 6 of 7 • This day’s reading


The spiritual danger of thinking you’re the superhero 

There once was a king named Herod who had an announcement for his kingdom. His people thought he did such a good job that they began to honor him as a god. Accepting their praise, Herod neglected to tell them God was the one deserving glory. This upset the one, true God. According to Scripture, “Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”

Herod didn’t tell the people to praise him and give him all the credit; he simply didn’t correct them when they did. This may seem like a trivial mistake, but it’s not. Herod stood in God’s rightful place of glory. 

Just a few pages later in Acts 14, we find a similar story with a very different ending. Paul and Barnabas encountered a man in Lystra who was lame. Paul told him to get up and walk. And he did. Hailing them as Greek gods, the crowd brought animals and wreaths to offer Paul and Barnabas sacrifices. But Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes and shouted to direct the attention back to God. They attributed the miracles to Him. He was the One who had healed, not they.

These contrasting stories showcase two polar opposite responses to praise: Take credit for the work of God or rip our clothes and shout in protest until people understand that anything good we have or do is from God.

In a culture so driven by praise, it’s important to get over ourselves if we want to make a difference. 

Why do we seek praise? Deep down we fear we’re not good enough. Not accepting our Creator’s view of us, we seek the approval of others. Unless we rest secure in the knowledge that we are loved by our Creator, unless we turn our eyes toward Him—recognizing that we are complete and whole through Christ—we feel the need to strive for acceptance.

When we turn our eyes away from ourselves, we see that we’re not the heroes—but also that we’re part of a much bigger story. When we orient our view toward God’s glory, we get a glimpse of the grand story: one of redemption, of wholeness and hope from a very big God. 

You and I make lousy superheroes and lousier saviors. But He doesn’t. Jesus, help us remember that anything good that happens in our lives is for Your glory.

Reflection: How does the desire for praise play out in your spiritual life? What are some tangible ways that we can give credit to God as we go, give, and serve? 

Based on The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, by Peter Greer with Anna Haggard, published by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group (, 2014. Used by permission.