Praise! Who doesn’t like to be praised? I know I do. I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t respond better to praise than criticism. That said, the desire for praise can be a double-edged sword when it comes to my faith. My commitment to follow Jesus brings me face to face with a tough choice. Will I speak and act in ways that win praise from people or from God? Sometimes, it’s impossible to have the respect and admiration of both.
Praise comes from the Greek word doxa. The Key Word Study Bible, or what I refer to as my “Big Fat Greek Bible,” defines the word praise as “honor, respect, prestige, fame, or approval.”
In John 12, we see that despite the controversy surrounding Jesus, many of the religious leaders had come to believe in Him. But they wouldn’t openly acknowledge their faith to the religious “in-crowd,” for fear they would be “put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42).
The next verse challenged me to take stock of my own motives and is my watchword for the day: “… they loved human praise more than praise from God” (John 12:43). The Message puts it this way: When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.
Ouch. Any approval addicts out there? Do I say or do things that make me look good in the eyes of those around me or in the eyes of God? Later, I sensed God nudging me to take the risk to approach an uncomfortable topic with a friend. She and I have differing views on abortion. I shared with her how my beliefs about the sanctity of life are grounded in the Bible, which calls Jesus “the author of life” (Acts 3:15). Since we didn’t create life, I explained, I don’t believe we have the right to take life…even in the womb. She listened and paused to think. Our conversation didn’t turn hostile…but my words carried some risk. I think doors were opened to further “faith conversations.”
Let’s pray that the Lord opens the door for conversations to talk about our faith and courage to seize the moment for His glory. Don’t forget to listen for the quiet whisper of His approval…the best kind of praise of all.