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Laurie and I watched a movie the other night, a drama, about a young man who was a gifted mathematician. Accompanying that gift was a difficult social awkwardness and lack of emotions regarding love and care for others. I think we are all familiar with the theme in film of challenged, gifted geniuses, and the most well-known is A Beautiful Mind starring Russel Crowe, about the mathematician John Nash who suffered from schizophrenia and received a Nobel Prize for his game theory.

We revere such prodigies. Consider Albert Einstein, surely the most renowned genius in a century. His formula, E=mc2, is recognized world-wide. His theories revolutionized physics and changed the way we view the universe and creation. His photo hangs on walls, and people buy t-shirts with his image on them.

However, our veneration of individuals doesn’t end with brilliant mathematicians and physicists. We revere a diversity of gifted people. Athletes. Musicians. Painters and sculptors. Composers. Poets. Generals and Commanders. And yes, even Christian “saints.” We build statues to honor them. Why? Because they impacted the world in one way or another. They broke world records, changed the course of history for the better, or added beauty to our lives.

When humans don’t worship God, idols, or nature, we are left to worship ourselves. Thus, we exalt those who achieve remarkable things. We are in awe of them. However, do these people deserve such venerations? Let’s think about this for a moment. When Einstein was in his mother’s womb, he didn’t decide that he wanted a mind that would rank among the greats in the history of the world. When Mozart was a fetus, he didn’t wire his brain so he could write stunningly beautiful music. When Stephen Curry was yet unborn, he didn’t insert a “shooting basketballs” gift into his body and mind so he would become one of the more astounding players ever to take to the court.

No, the Lord God Almighty gave these people—and everyone else—the gifts they possess. We should be in awe of God, not the person to whom He gave the gift.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:13–14).1

We Christians follow right along with the world and do the same. I have done it myself. When I think, “Wow! Can that guy sing!”, I am not glorifying God for a gift given. I am glorifying the artist. Since the beginnings of the Church, believers have been exalting gifted believers and leaders for their accomplishments. However, we are falling for a cultural lie. God is the one who is responsible for the results of any spiritual or natural gift in one’s ministry. Church growth, prosperity, healings, great faith, and wisdom are a few examples.

We are foolish. We are to boast in God alone:

“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23–24).

Combatting this is difficult because we have all been brought up in cultures that exalt people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We must be different from the world.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:15–16).

If you are a Christian, please join with me in asking the Lord to forgive us for our idolization of successful and talented individuals, whether they are Christians or not, and help us boast in God alone.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (2016). Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

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