Who doesn’t like to receive honor? To be praised? I know I do. And I have yet to meet a child—or adult, for that matter—who doesn’t respond better to words of affirmation than criticism.
That said, our desire for praise can be a double-edged sword. Especially when it comes to standing for truth. There are times when my commitment to follow Jesus brings me face-to-face with a choice: Will I try to win praise from people or from God? It’s impossible to always have the respect and admiration of both. Following Jesus doesn’t come with the promise of popularity.
Controversy always surrounded Jesus–especially during His time on Earth. Many religious leaders had secretly come to believe in Him. But they wouldn’t openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be “put out of the synagogue.” We’re told, “they loved human praise more than praise from God” (John 12:42, 43). The Message Bible 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? The truth in God’s Word presses us into this question: Do I say or do things that make me look good in the eyes of those around me or in the eyes of God? Do we love the praises of men more than praise from God?
The word translated “praise” comes from the word doxa. It can be defined as “honor, respect, prestige, fame, or approval.” These are good things. It’s important to give and receive honor. The Bible teaches us to honor God and one another. I talk further about why I believe our culture is desperately thirsty for honor in my recently released Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband.
But sometimes the gospel calls us to risk losing the approval of others. Recently, I sensed God nudging me toward an uncomfortable conversation with a friend. She and I have markedly different views on a number of issues, including abortion. I tried to respectfully share how my beliefs about the sanctity of life are grounded in the Bible. Jesus is even referred to as “the author of life” (Acts 3:15). And since we didn’t create life, I explained, I don’t believe we have the right to destroy a human life in the womb. My friend listened and paused to think. She asked questions and shared her thoughts. Inwardly, I prayed. Our conversation became a little intense—but not hostile. My hope is that it opened the door to further discussion.
Bottom line is that following Jesus comes with a risk. I’m trying to become more alert to opportunities to share His truth. To obey His calling to love. To give. And to serve. Sometimes my words are accepted. Other times, not so much.
Will you join me in praying that the Lord will open doors for us to speak of His grace and truth? To seize the moment for His glory? Let’s remember to listen for the quiet whisper of the Father’s approval—truly the best kind of honor of all.
“I will honor those who honor me…” declares the Lord (1 Samuel 2:30).
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:26).