Do you have difficulty receiving praise? If you do you are not alone. Do you know how many Christians I have gone up to and complimented for some good deed they did, or for how they have encouraged my life? Their response to me is usually something like, “all glory to God, I did nothing, it was all Him!” I want to pull them aside and say “yes, I am fully aware you would not have done or said that apart from the Holy Spirit living in you, BUT you had a part because it would not have happened apart from you co-operating with Him.”
I have discovered there are two main reasons why Christians shrink from being affirmed by others. One, they were taught that humility means “viewing yourself as nothing” and in this way, God will receive all the glory. And two, before they got saved they truly struggled with pride, and therefore “receiving” any kind of praise feels fleshly and carnal. I understand the reasoning of the second much more than I do the first. But both are sad situations. I now want to give just a couple examples from scripture where the child of God is praised:
At the return of the Lord:
Jesus is explaining the Kingdom of God in this way. He says He is going away for awhile and is entrusting to His servants’ certain duties or responsibilities to take care of, and when He returns, He will reward them accordingly. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food [spiritual truth] at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him [not everyone, but this kind of individual] over all his possessions” (Matt. 24:45-47). This applies to the individual who has been entrusted with the truth from God (meaning the gospel message along with the “whole counsel of God” Ac. 20:27) and who has been faithful to “feed the Sheep.” But this can also extend to anyone who has had the privilege of “eating” out of God’s hand and been faithful to pour that truth out to others.
Next, this is also at the return of the Lord. This applies to any calling, ability, or spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit and meant to bless others. Jesus explains, “Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matt. 25:19-21)
I intentionally highlighted the words “faithful, wise, good, and servants” for the sole purpose of showing that these are character qualities and acts of the will that are developed and performed. Now, we all know that apart from the Holy Spirit entering us NONE of this would ever occur! However, every single day we make “choices” and God, from the beginning, created humanity with the ability to choose. He actually created us to rule and have dominion over the earth in partnership with Him, and this meant responsibility. And responsibility means “we” are responsible. So “after” we are saved by God’s grace, we are given “good works” to carry out on behalf of our Lord. And since He is our Lord, or Master, this naturally means we are servants. Now servants can choose to obey or disobey, but both choices have consequences, with one being positive and one being negative. So, realize you “co-operate” with the Spirit in you by your free will.
My last example, though there are MANY more in scripture, is this quote from the apostle Paul:
He is at the end of his life and leaves his young disciple Timothy with this example to follow: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Again, I have highlighted certain words for emphasis. Did you notice how at the end of Paul’s life and ministry he is commending himself? Is he boasting here or is he simply looking back over his life and can confidently say, “I have been faithful with what God has called me to do!”? I think he is just certain of where he stands and confident that his Master is smiling upon him. Also, do you long for His Kingdom to come like Paul, longing for evil to finally be destroyed and for righteousness to reign, for the Lord to receive His rightful place over all the earth as King of kings and Lord of lords with every knee bowed and every tongue confessing His “praiseworthiness“? If you do, well done!
So, I want to say “well done” to you who have stood firm in the trial, through the storm; stood in the midst of persecution from family, friends, or enemies; stood to love when it was difficult, to correct when it meant they will retaliate; stood your ground on the Word of God, in prayer, living life for the purpose of making Christ look good! Many times, I have sensed the smile of God upon an individual who is serving Him, and I have never refused to tell them “Well done” when I’ve had the chance. I feel the Holy Spirit welling up with praise toward them and I cannot keep it in. So, I want to encourage you also, if you are not prone to doing this, practice it. Some will shrink from accepting praise, but just tell them, like I have had to do, “If Jesus Christ Himself, who purchased you with His own blood, can say to you WELL DONE, don’t you think another servant of His can also?”