The deferral of credit to others is a sign of humility and an awareness of the truth that much of what we are capable of doing is not solely a function of our own efforts. A perfect illustration of this I heard last night, is during a press conference when an athlete who played a major role in a team’s victory is questioned by members of the press on how he managed to get the win. The wise athletes recognize the trap immediately. To take all the credit is to put oneself center page on the morrow’s paper with a headline painting one as proud and arrogant. Rather they are prone to say things like “I couldn’t do it without the other guys”. “If it wasn’t for the coach drawing up plays, or the trainers that kept us in top shape”. Whether the athlete is sincere or not is not the concern at the moment. As Jim Rohn once said, “we must weigh sincerity on sincerity scales, and weigh truth on truth scales”. So in taking the words of the athlete alone apart from whether they sincerely meant what they said, and weighing the words so to speak on truth scales, it turns out indeed to be truth! It turns out that without the lineman to protect him or the wide receivers to catch the ball, the quarterback couldn’t win a game on his own.
People have always admired and respected the person willing to defer credit. In contrast, people have always been put off by the one who basks in and takes all the glory. It is a curious thing that we often make the mistake of not deferring glory to God, but rather take credit for ourselves. We often put our accomplishments, talents, and abilities to ourselves. In Isaiah 42:8 God says “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols”. “Cosmic plagiarism” is a unique term I once came across listening to a sermon by Timothy Keller. Plagiarism in a strict sense is taking credit for another’s work. Cosmic plagiarism is taking credit for God’s work. God says in Jeremiah 1:5 “I knew you before I FORMED you in your mother’s womb”. All our graceful talents, our charming personalities, our cheerful dispositions, our good looks, all that which makes up who we are was formed by God. This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10 “by the grace of God I am what I am”. Yet still we continue to commit the crime of “cosmic plagiarism”. We often steal God’s glory, taking credit for our ability to awe an audience with a song, or dazzle others with graceful fingers on the keys of a piano; forgetting the basic truth that who we are and what we can do was not a result of anything we did, but was all a result of what God has done.
In Matthew 3, we see John deferring glory to Jesus. John says in Matthew 14 “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” Jesus deflects the glory in return saying “suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness”. When we read the New Testament we see several instances of Jesus deferring glory to God. He says in John 5:19 “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does”. A few verses later, he puts it yet another way in John 5:30 “by myself I can do nothing”. Let us get one thing straight. God does not want us to defer glory to Him as though He craves to always be in the spotlight. He wants us to defer glory to Him in order to point others to the only One who can save them and who can meet their deepest needs. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven”.