I read this post at Femina Girls about criticism and praise a few weeks ago. The quote she shared from Matthew Henry has really stuck with me:
“Praise puts the man into the furnace and we find out what kind of man he really is. The praise might make him proud and lazy or it might make him diligent and thankful.”
Proverbs 31:31 says “Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.”
It is ok for your work to praise you. It is ok for others to notice the hard work you put into your mothering, job, or service. It is how we respond that matters.
Praise could either make us proud or keep us thankful.
We can take the praise and start patting ourselves on the back. Oh Yes, I am a good mother. Oh, I DO have it all together! I am so organized. I am so patient. This turns into pride very quickly – but we are usually apt at recognizing this type of pride. The self-pity type of pride is more deceiving.
Sometimes we can take the praise and wallow in self-humiliation. We feel uncomfortable because we began to think of reasons why we don’t deserve the praise. Doesn’t the Bible say that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble? We feel as if accepting praise is prideful, so we began to form a checklist of reasons why we don’t deserve the praise. 1. I do not always say kind things. 2. I get mad. 3. I am tired all the time….the list goes on and we began to wallow in self-pity.
When we resist the praise, we are actually being proud! We are focusing on ourselves and why we don’t deserve the praise, or maybe why we wish we deserved the praise. We are turning our eyes inward, instead of outward and upward.
When we accept the praise and only look inward, we are missing the Source. When we accept the praise and look UP – at God – we are able to do as Matthew Henry said: be diligent and thankful.
When accepting praise, we can turn and look outward. We recognize that most praise is based on hard work on our part. We cannot sit back and let our lives play out without hard work. Working hard at organizing my cabinets will get praise from my husband! Working hard at manners for my children will merit praise from strangers. Working hard in my Bible study will be recognized by people when we are able to speak up in Sunday School.
The praise we receive from our hard work should just make us work harder.
Finally, we should immediately begin looking upward when we are praised. We must give thanks to Him who is the power behind our work. It is not just our hard work meriting praise – it is God’s Spirit at work in us that deserves the real praise. When we receive honor or praise, our hearts should quickly bow before God and give Him the glory.
Philippians 2:13 – For it is God who works in you both will and to do for His good pleasure.
Honest Moments are part of a series I do with Keri over at Living in this Season.
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