Think About It: Is it okay to accept praise?

Love languages. It’s a concept that first took root when Gary Chapman wrote The Five Love Languages back in 1995. The idea that we all express and experience love in different ways makes so much sense. Your love language can be receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. For some, discovering your love language is simple. There is one clear option. For others, like myself, we hover around several.

In a recent community group discussion, Beth Claes, a good friend and fellow blogger at Wrestled Faith, brought up something I hadn’t thought of before. So often, the way we show love is the same way we like to receive love. I found this perspective interesting because, while I tend to express love through acts of service… I actually prefer to experience love through quality time and words of affirmation.

I pour my heart and soul into everything I do and I like to be told that I am appreciated and valued. It drives me to work harder and be better when I know people are grateful for my efforts. An encouraging word can make an ordinary task feel joyful. It sounds a bit prideful, doesn’t it? Needing to be told you’re excellent – needing to be praised.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

We are sinners. There is no excellence in sin. But Christ is excellent. We will never reach a level of perfection this side of heaven. Our sin nature is at war with the Spirit and our weaknesses often win over righteousness. However, we can strive towards excellence.  

Colossians 3:23 says that “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” Pursuing excellence, in all things, is a continuous journey. We must daily turn our hearts over to Christ and, in return, He will refine and prune us until we start to reflect His greatness.

But, as we begin to be set apart from others, it’s easy to stop focusing on God’s praise and start expecting praise from people instead. We all want to know that our good deeds and works are being noticed. Being recognized. Being appreciated.

Praising people for their strengths and good qualities is not necessarily a bad thing. We should be appreciative and affirming of others. However all of our personal praise needs to be transferred back to God. He is the One who made us as we are. Our gifts and talents are a direct reflection of Him. It’s God’s attributes and achievements that deserve the glory because, without Him, we are nothing.

As we wrap up this series, let’s focus our gaze today on the perfection of Jesus and thank God for His undeserving goodness. “…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

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