Many years ago, I looked forward to my first real Mother’s Day, when my children would bring me little crafts and homemade cards and hugs. Now that my kids are really at that age, I love their praises on holidays and birthdays.
Some Jews have a wonderful tradition, where the father and children bless Mom each Sabbath eve. Author Nancy Campbell writes of their family’s sabbath tradition,
My husband then reads Proverbs 31 and praises me. We love to invite others to join our Shabbat table and so we ask each husband present to share some lovely things about his wife. This is always such a precious time. Can you imagine being praised by your husband every week? Doesn’t it make you want to have a Shabbat meal right now?
There is a part of me, though, that doesn’t accept praise very well. I feel embarrassed, and I halfway wonder whether I really deserve praises at all. I even wonder if it’s right (spiritually) to accept praise from people. Doesn’t all of our praise belong to God? Isn’t it haughty to enjoy receiving praise?
“I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8, KJV).
Apparently this issue is a little deeper than I first thought. I searched for verses that referred to blessing or praising people, and I learned some interesting things.
For instance, David wrote the entire 72nd Psalm in praise of his son Solomon, and he said,
“May his name endure forever;
may it continue as long as the sun.
All nations will be blessed through him,
and they will call him blessed” (v. 17).
But then he immediately followed that with
“Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds” (v. 18).
God frequently speaks of the praise that will come to Israel and His city of Jerusalem:
“And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:12, KJV).
“I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the LORD,
give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-7, NIV).
“At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you;
I will rescue the lame
and gather those who have been scattered.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they were put to shame.
At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes,”
says the LORD” (Zephaniah 3:19-20, NIV).
The common thread between all of these is that each time mankind is praised, it is because of what God has done for them or because of their righteous acts.
“Governors… are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Peter 2:14, KJV).
“…A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:29, NIV).
“Let the name of the LORD be praised,
both now and forevermore.
Who is like the LORD our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high…
He settles the barren woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the LORD” (Psalm 113:2, 5, 9, NIV).
Receiving praise is such a motivation for us. Just as grades in school and promotions at work help us do our best work, receiving praise and blessing on a regular basis (such as each Sabbath day, above) will help us keep the joy in our daily grind. We don’t have to be praised by men, of course, because His Spirit will encourage us in His Word each day and by the peace by which He fills our hearts, and ultimately, we can receive His praise when we stand before Him someday. But receiving praise from our families can certainly give us some nice, warm fuzzies!
Here are some principles for when we receive praise from others:
- We should accept all praise graciously (“Why, thank you! instead of “Oh, no, it was nothing!”), turning all the glory back to our heavenly Father (“I could never have done that without His help” or “God gave me just the right verse for that this morning, and it was the help I needed”). I’m not very good at this myself, but it’s such an encouragement when I’m around those who are. God really does get all the credit!
- It’s wonderful to receive praise from your husband, because it shows you that he loves and cherishes you (Ephesians 5:28-29). It’s a sign of a healthy marriage. Be sure to express your appreciation for the compliments you receive! It shows that you are also giving respect to him.
- Children learn to give praise by receiving it, just as they learn all good manners by watching you. Giving praise to them is also known as “edification,” a word that means to build up, brick by brick, by encouraging and kind words. “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1, KJV).
- You can check your motives with this verse: “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:42-43, NIV). When we lose sight of the One that we are to please, the One who sees us in the hidden places of our hearts, and rather we start to fear men, seeking their praise and acceptance — well, look out!
In closing, if you’d like to read more of some of the passages I discovered (and enjoyed), here are some places to start:
- Ways God blesses His people
- A man who chose to steal the praise away from God (and what happened to him!)
- A woman who deserved a lot of praise and humbly directed it all to God