The Praise of Men vs. The Praise of God

I love horses. There is something so majestic and regal about them. All of which brings me to the 2018 Kentucky Derby this past weekend. I'm not a gambling man, but I still love to watch the Derby. The sounds and sights of these powerful animals galloping at throttle-wide-open speed really does make this race "the most exciting two minutes in sports."  

The race this year was won by the horse Justify and jockey Mike Smith. Together they broke a century's-old curse (The Curse of Apollo) by winning the Derby with a horse who did not race as a two-year old. Impressive! 

But what caught my attention the most was what jockey Mike Smith said immediately after the race. There, basking in the spotlight, the first words out of his mouth were not words of self-laudation, rather, he said, "I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing us on this afternoon and blessing us with this amazing horse." Then, when interviewed on ESPN and asked about his strategy, he said, "My strategy going in is to pray to the Lord first, and then just hope for a good break."  I love the balance of his comments: first things first with God, and then go out and take care of business! 

Justify, with jockey Mike Smith aboard, wins the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. (UPI)

Now, it seems to me, that whether it's in the world of sports or business or ministry or parenting or whatever--this is where a believer in Jesus should always try to be: namely, to do the very best they can with the Holy Spirit's power and help--and then, if there is any glory, to make sure that Jesus always gets it FIRST.  

But only a deliberate commitment on our part to doing this will result in its happening. It's just too easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to give the glory to God. It's too easy to be a little embarrassed or to feel a little awkward. It's just too easy to secretly love the praise of men more than the praise of God. 

I must confess that, far too many times in my life, I have failed here--for all the above reasons plus just pure cowardice. But, looking back, I am deeply saddened that I let my Lord down this way so often. I have recommitted myself to trying hard to never do this again. The Bible's words haunt me (John 12:42-43) "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." 

Let us remember that, as Christ followers, at the end of the day, it is not the devil nor the people of this world whose "Well done" we're living for.  

Jesus said  in Luke 9:26, "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."