“Wow, that prayer you prayed was powerful!”
“I am so happy that you developed that approach to the Bible study. It was a ticklish topic. You are an effective teacher.”
“You were at my house to help me at just the right time and you said the right thing for me.”
“Your generosity was so inspirational.”
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
“That is about the best thing to say to people who don’t know the Lord.”
How do you respond to someone who pays you a compliment when you are just responding to the situation you are in as you think God would want you to?
Do you go into a long explanation about how God is working through you?
In some circles that type of talk is not very common and those motivations to let God work through you are hard for some people to understand.
Let’s be honest, when some people do nice things for others, it is because they want the praise of man but those people are not doing God’s work. They are doing work for themselves.
Dr. Willard quotes Frederick B Meyer on this subject: “So long as there is some thought of personal advantage, some idea of acquiring the praise and commendation of men, some aim of self-aggrandizement, it will simply be impossible to find out God’s purpose concerning us.”
Many want the praise but the praise from man falls flat compared to the joy one gets from just doing the work God calls on us to do. Some of the work that God calls us to do is not even noticed. It is often not praised but He wants us to do it.
I was in attendance at a big community event this past week and I was a bit hesitant to attend at first but I thought, go ahead, they invited you, and they have even paid for your meal.
I went and I am glad that I did. It was good to see people I have not seen in a while, and it was good to see some pictures out of my past, the thirty-six years I spent at a college.
The Meyer quote is so appropriate for what I did in most of those years at work. I worked hard. I did things that were beyond what was expected.
All for the praise and commendation of men.
From Matthew 6 in the Contemporary English Versions “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to the poor, don’t blow a loud horn. That’s what show-offs do in the meeting places and on the street corners, because they are always looking for praise. I can assure you that they already have their reward. When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know about it. Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret, and He will reward you.”
I know that I helped some people but I also got a lot of praise.
I loved it.
Did I deserve it? I thought so.
Now, I wonder about the hollow sound of the words. How can a person linger over praise that is given by fellow man? How can a person be motivated by it?
Most of those years, when I was working hard, I did not understand the phrase “letting God work through me.”
When the person loves the praise too much, the glory is shifted away from God and that is not good. Man stands in the way.
God should get the credit.
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
I did not understand that.
I felt I was bearing much fruit and it was all me.
It clearly says “apart from me you can do nothing.”
As I sat in the audience, I had a detached view of the proceedings. I wondered about the words of praise the speakers spoke. I wondered how people in the audience were receiving those words, how the speakers were using the words to manipulate others and how the receivers were loving the praise and commendation.
Were they feeling important to be singled out in such an important crowd?
Were they loving the attention?
Were they thinking of the power they could wield as they took the public praise and how they could use the capital in future ventures?
The weak human side of our nature says yes, yes, yes to all three of these questions.
The side of our nature that is ruled by God says only one thing to praise and commendation.
If a Christian is praising you, you could say “I am just letting God work through me.”
He or she will understand.
If someone who does not know Christ is praising you, just say “thank you”.
They won’t know that God is working through you but you know and more importantly, God knows.
That’s all that matters.