Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Proverbs 27:21 Giving and receiving praise, Part I

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.

We've discussed refining of precious metals before. There have been verses that have caused us to examine the refining process, and to draw some applications for our lives. This verse is a little different --- we are "tested" by the praise we receive.

In a nutshell, the way that we respond to praise will reveal our character, just as a refining pot or furnace reveals the nature and purity of silver and gold. There are many examples in the Bible of people receiving praise, and their responses to it . . . look at I Samuel 18 when you have the time.  In that passage, praise brought out the best in David, but the worst in Saul.

By ourselves, we are totally inadequate for the tasks set before us -- sinful and helpless. However, (and this is a BIG however) because we are created in God's image, and because we have accepted the gift of salvation from His Son, we have great worth. Since God created us, and then redeemed us, our whole existence and our righteousness are completely dependent upon Him.
Biblical humility, then, is recognizing that our great worth is none of our doing --- it is the work that Christ has done (and is doing) in us!

There are so many ways to give and to receive praise . . . we can give praise personally -- face to face, or we can send it in writing -- real paper or electronic message.  We can even give it indirectly, like when we talk to someone and tell them about a nice thing a shared friend has done.
Whether we are praising their performance, or their character, it is such a positive thing to do.  There are three by-words that are important here --- praise needs to be:
  •  timely
  •  specific
  •  sincere
Here's what I mean by "timely" praise: immediately upon completion of a task, or the moment when we realize that something has been done for us. A thank-you or words of praise that seem to come grudgingly, or too late, certainly don't mean as much for the intended hearer!
Let's be specific in our praise, too. Say exactly what that person did, that impressed you. Or thank them for a specific action, and the way it impacted your life in a positive way.
Lastly, be sincere. Don't gush or seem "over the top," but use words that express your sincere admiration or your gratitude. Let the person know that they are truly appreciated.
I hope you'll let me know in the comments if you have something to add to our study today. It's always good to let others know what you are thinking --- join in the discussion!


CATachresis said...

You know it is quite a gift to be able to give praise to someone without sounding patronising or maybe even insincere! Then also, it is possible, as you say, to be over the top and do it too much, then it could become meaningless!

Then receiving praise is difficult too, especially as in this cynical day and age, one can wonder what's behind it? We probably don't do it enough and it is becoming quite rare for folk to take time to appreciate others .. especially we Brits!!

Poor old Saul in 1 Sam 18 had a fit of the jealousies!! He was looking at the perceived comparisons of those slain - his thousands to David's ten thousands!! It alludes to the issue of praise related to power!

Thanks for making me think this morning :)

Carrie P. said...

It has been a while since I have taken the time to read your posts. I have been in bad place this last week but I give God the praise for bringing me out of it. I try to do my best to let people know how much I appreciate what they do. I really appreciate you sharing God's word with us. thanks!

Belinda said...

I've always had a problem accepting praise. It makes me uncomfortable for some reason. Maybe it's a self confidence thing. I dunno. But I do often praise others. It depends on their reaction as to whether I gush or not. And that's not a good thing either. But when I do praise someone, I am sincere...I think. ;)