Anyone can choose to be gracious or humble or kind, and to present certain appearances if they are given enough warning. However, the people who are truly gracious and humble and kind will be that way even when they are surprised by adversity.
The Apostle Peter and King Herod presented a startling contrast in instinctive reactions when in Acts 10 and 12 they each responded differently to praise. In Acts 10 Cornelius the Centurion greeted Peter with some well-intentioned praise, but Peter instinctively dodged it, saying, “Stand up, I am only a man myself.” He instinctively understood that praise belongs to God alone.
In contrast to Peter, King Herod was praised—hailed as a god by an admiring crowd—and instead of instinctively deflecting that praise back to God, he absorbed it, basking in the adulation of the masses. Unfortunately, his pride was his downfall because before the praise had even soaked fully into his arrogant soul he was struck by an angel and keeled over dead. Immediately following Herod’s death, the Scripture says this, “But the word of God continued to spread and flourish” (Acts 12:24).
Let’s keep an eye on our instinctive reactions this week. They’re telling us things about the internal states of our heart. Perhaps we will be pleased with what emanates from inside us, or perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to grow and work a little more Christ-likeness into the deeper places of our soul.