Whose Praise Do We Want?
Read John Chapter 5
Jn 5:41 “I do not accept praise from men, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not accept Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 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?
We looked at verse 44 recently, on July 9. Today’s topic will take a little different slant on that verse and the three before it. Jesus had a way of getting the attention of the self-righteous Pharisees and Sadducees of His time. At every turn He pointed out the error of their ways. No one had ever spoken to them that way. Therefore He naturally made many enemies. In this passage, He made a point that can be good for us to understand – it is easier to please men than it is to please God. I don’t mean that pleasing God is all that difficult. I mean, by our pleasing God we risk losing some earthly friendships. Because of our insecurities as SSA men and women, it is hard for us to willingly do things which can bring us rejection.
As we go about our lives, attempting to become more like Christ, we will make enemies. The easy route in life is to agree with the world. If we do that, we will have many “friends.” If we don’t speak out and oppose the world’s way of living, they are likely to think we’re cool (sorry about the 50’s expression). If we agree that the world’s ways are okay, we will not become their enemies. Truth is that they aren’t really friends. The friendship of the world is extremely fickle.
We love the praise of others. I can’t think of many things that make us feel good more than hearing someone praise us. As Christians, we will be called upon to take positions that will bring the opposite reaction. We will likely encounter criticism. Verse 44 gives us a clear directive – the only praise that matters is the praise we will hear from God. We might wonder what in the world could Jesus ever consider about us that would draw His praise. I believe we will be surprised at what we hear when we face God One on one.
Mt 25:21 “His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Mt 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.’
We just don’t know. Many of our good deeds will be a surprise to us. Why? Because the Holy Spirit directs our thoughts and actions in ways that we don’t always recognize. As we attempt to live our lives in obedience to Christ, we will naturally do things which are beneficial to others. As we attempt to love others, we cannot help but touch someone’s life in a good way. That will naturally happen as we make our feeble attempts to be obey God. Even if we fail 500 times a day, there will be times when we did not fail.
Our attempts at obedience will bring us praise. God is not hard to please, even though we have believed that for most of our existence. He judges our hearts. He knows that you and I do want to obey Him. Just imagine how much praise we will hear as we continue to distance ourselves from SSA failures. Our Lord is pleased with every effort we make, every step we take, in His direction.
It really doesn’t matter what the world thinks of us. We don’t need their praise. Their accolades will mean nothing when we face God. But His praise will mean everything to us, more than we can ever imagine. Let’s obey Him and let the chips fall where they may. We will not regret it. As a final thought, we will receive some good praise from good people. It is okay to desire that. What we do NOT want is to please the world if doing so displeases God.
Prayer: Lord, we do cherish the idea of pleasing You. We can easily see how pleasing the world will bring us no rewards of value. But it is so hard, to feel the wrath of our world. We don’t like it. Help us always to remember that pleasing You is eternally rewarding, and pleasing others brings only earthly reward.