Words of Worth

Cosmic Plagiarism

September 21, 2013

PrideI think every good idea is worthy of being stolen and I’ve got a feeling I’m not alone in that thinking! However, lest I be wrongly accused of stealing in this instance, I need to say right from the start, the term, cosmic plagiarism, is not original with me. It belongs to Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NY, and it is probably the best definition of pride I have ever heard.

Many definitions of pride exist, and usually they contain reference to arrogance, self-absorption, or lack of humility and rightly so. Keller, though, defines pride as “making yourself the author of a sheer gift that comes from God”, thus cosmic plagiarism.

One of the most famous absolute monarchs in history was Nebuchadnezzar, and even though he and I never had a conversation, he apparently agreed with me about the worthiness of stealing good ideas. He created Babylon as his personal residence, and his hanging gardens became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It must have been magnificent to have Babylon as a personal residence! And one day, while Nebuchadnezzar surveyed his kingdom from his palace rooftop, he took full credit for its existence and even proclaimed in Daniel 4:30:

“The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’”

That was Babylonian for, “I did all of this myself and for myself!” And in the next instance, God rendered him an animal who ate grass with the beast of the fields for seven years until Nebuchadnezzar recognized “the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.”(Daniel 4:31-34)

When we think about it, what have we to do with anything that we have? What have we to do with where we were born, when we were born, or who our parents or siblings were? I Corinthians 4:7 asks a question along the same vein, “…What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” All that we have is a gift from God. To take credit for those gifts, or to make ourselves the author of the “sheer gifts” that God has given to us, is to commit cosmic plagiarism.

Only by recognizing God as the author and grantor of EVERYTHING, can we be healed of our pride and like Nebuchadnezzar proclaim,

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”
Daniel 4:37


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