Guest Blogger: Zac Caudell. Zac is the husband of Dawn, the father of two boys, and the reigning Graystone Cornhole Champion.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “praise”? For me, I think of an act that I do towards someone else: praising my wife for her valiant effort in killing a spider; praising my son for successfully using the bathroom without getting anything on his hands; or, praising God that I’m not as bad of a driver as that guy who just cut me off. I also think of praise and worship time at church where we sing “praise” songs. Various Psalms come to mind:
Ps. 47:6 For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.
Ps. 48:1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise.
Ps. 103:1 Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
While praising God and singing praises to Him are worthy and wonderful pursuits, there is another type of praise that we often fail to think about. I first learned about this praise as a young boy. Growing up there wasn’t much that I needed to sustain me: the trusty companionship of my dog and a lovingly prepared meal from my mom were plenty to get me through life at a young age. However, there was one thing that I could not have lived without: the attention of my father. Whether I was riding my bike, climbing a tree, or shooting a basketball I needed to know that my dad was watching. Otherwise, what was the point of doing any of that stuff? Not only did I need his attention while I did something, but I also needed to hear that I was good at it. I needed his praise. Praise and encouragement from him were what motivated me to do things I wouldn’t have tried otherwise; whether it was climbing higher in a tree or mustering the courage to step out of my comfort zone in order to accomplish something great.
We need this same type of praise from our Heavenly Father. In fact, we need to actually seek it out. As imperfect humans, we need praise and affirmation to make it through life and if we don’t seek it from God then we will look for it elsewhere; namely from other people. There’s obviously nothing wrong with giving praise to people but when we look for praise from others then we start to get ourselves in trouble.
In John 5 the Jews approach Jesus in order to persecute Him. Jesus addresses their unbelief and then remarks in vs. 44: “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” Jesus is quick to point out their self-serving nature and how they rely on human praise. This fixation on what others think about them causes them to miss the whole message of the gospel, which happens to be standing right in front of them.
Later, in chapter 12, we see that some Jews are starting to understand who Jesus is and believe. Verse 42 tells us that even some of the big shot leaders in the synagogue are believing. However, we learn that they would not confess their faith because they were afraid of getting kicked out of the synagogue. Verse 43 reveals that, “They loved praise from men more than praise from God.” They were afraid of what the Pharisees would think if they confessed their belief. This fear kept them from being bold about their faith.
How often do we pass up a chance to share the gospel because we are too worried about what man thinks? Or because we want praise from someone rather than The One? Let’s seek praise from our Heavenly Father and let it motivate us to accomplish great things for His Kingdom.