God will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8). So we must be especially careful after we win a victory in our Christian lives, that we seek to give Him all the glory, and not take any of it to ourselves. Anytime we become aware of victory, we should recognize that even in that simple awareness, there is a temptation to touch the glory of the Lord, and we should deal seriously with that temptation.
Three wrong responses to victory
“Yet Gideon said to them, 'I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil... So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil... Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.”
Gideon allowed an awareness of victory to produce honor-seeking. Even though he refused to be named their ruler, yet his victory still caused him to seek a small token of appreciation from others. He had not seen, as John saw on Patmos, that all glory and honor and power belong to God alone (Revelation 4:11).
“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.'”
The Pharisee, aware of all of his obedience, allowed an awareness of victory to produce comparison. His victory caused him to take a boastful, judgmental attitude toward others. He had not seen, as the Apostle had, that he must fix his eyes only on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), and not compare himself with anyone else.
“But he (the elder brother) answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;”
The elder brother, aware of all of his obedience, allowed an awareness of victory to produce resentment. His victory caused him to think his father was in his debt, that he owed him something. He had not seen, as Jesus said, that “...when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"”
One thing Gideon, the Pharisee, and the elder brother all have in common is that they all had a spirit of entitlement because of their successes. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love doesn't keep a record of wrongs. And the heart of a loving servant of God does not keep a "record of rights," either. We should be self-forgetful, meaning that we are quick to forget all that we have done for the Lord.
The right response to victory
Three consecutive chapters in the Gospel of Luke recount three separate occurrences of Jesus being used powerfully by God; we see from His example what the right response to being victorious and used of God is.
“While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ. When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place...”
Luke 4:40-42 NASB
“While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him... The news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”
Luke 5:12-13, 15-16 NASB
“On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!" And he got up and came forward. And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?" After looking around at them all, He said to him, "Stretch out your hand!" And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”
Luke 6:6-12 NASB
When Jesus was used by God -- when He became aware of some victory over the forces of darkness -- He ran to His Father. He didn't want to touch His Father's glory, and so He ran to His Father, to give Him all the glory, and to cry out to be delivered from any temptation to become proud of what He had done.
How can we know that Jesus faced this temptation? Because it is one that we face, and we know that He was, “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15b). He was sensitive to the tendency of the flesh to become proud when He was victorious, so He ran to His Father to cry out for deliverance. “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety." Hebrews 5:7
And here, in Jesus, is our pattern for dealing with every victory we become aware of as well: run to our Heavenly Father in helplessness. Cry out to Him to be delivered from all pride, from all temptation to take any glory to ourselves, and actively seek to give Him the glory for what He has done.
I don't want to allow any victory to lead me to honor-seeking, or comparison, or resentment; but rather, to follow Jesus' example in every victory, and to cry out to my Father, so that I might continue to receive "grace upon grace," just as He did (John 1:16).