Core Christian Value
We seek praise from men and we offer praise to our children. Praise can distort God’s hope for us. He tells us to come to Him with all humility and contrition, not wise in our own eyes.
We seem to have an inherent need to brag. We are so proud of our accomplishments that we can not wait to tell someone else how well we have done. Let’s think about the nature of a child for a moment. Children thrive on praise, don’t they? We sometimes, in our zeal to make them feel good about what they have done or who they are, overly praise them. We go “over the top” in our statements to them, generally because we truly love them and are truly proud, but we sometimes try too hard to lift up their spirits, even when they have not done as well as we and they had hoped to do. This is a tendency that God knows we have and in the Scriptures He gives us some perspective on this matter. Listen: “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” MATTHEW 23:11-12 NKJV
We will never stop lifting up our children in praise. We must also try to teach them the importance of humility. When they do well, our praise should be consistent with reality. It is difficult enough to restrain our praise and especially difficult if the praise is intended to console them. Kids are smart. They do not want “false” praise. They do want your unconditional love, not based on their “winning” but based on your genuine support of their intentions.
We, as adults, still like praise. Everyone likes praise! Is this true? If so, what advice does the Apostle Paul offer us and what should we teach our children. Listen: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” ROMANS 12:3 NKJV: James, the brother of Jesus, makes a similar point: “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” JAMES 3:16 NKJV Jesus said “…for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” JOHN 12:43 NKJV
Solomon summed this point up by saying, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. Then Solomon compares praising yourself with having eaten too much honey. “It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one’s own glory is not glory.” Solomon continues: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” And finally, “Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?” PROVERBS 16:18-19, 25:27, 26:12 ECCLESIASTES 7:16 NKJV
Then the prophet Isaiah says, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” ISAIAH 57:15 NKJV
Do you see a time when you will ever stop praising those you love? Not likely, but given what you have just read, what are some biblical guidelines about offering praise? It is one thing to focus on how we should properly praise other people but another thing to see ourselves in the proper light before God. If God does not want us to be “proud of ourselves” then how can we react to praise from other men?