This verse always strikes me to the core. My natural tendency is to seek affirmation from friends, family, authority figures, and anyone else I come in contact with. Recently God has been showing me that, while compliments are not always evil in themselves, I should not seek after them.
I’ve started to realize that the compliments people give us that are often the not problem, but how we respond to them. I’ve grown to understand that partly through the myriads of compliments that I have been receiving these days. I mean, sure I love knowing that I’m loved and respected, but sometimes I grow rather frustrated with receiving more attention than is good for me. But these days God’s been reminding me that “man is tested by the praise he receives.” It sounds strange, but praise is a part of the refining process that God uses to purify His people.
I’ve been realizing there are generally three types of responses to compliments. At least these are three reactions I’ve found in myself. I can’t speak for the rest of the human race, but I do tend to be typical sometimes. The three responses that I find the most common are the two extremes of either false humility or prideful indulgence and the proper response being a gracious acceptance.
It was always my tendency to avoid letting compliments puff me up, but in doing so to run the opposite direction. I think there is something not quite correct about denying compliments when they are do. True humility has nothing to do with self-degradation, but is rather an accurate appraisal of oneself in light of who God is. We are not to think more of ourselves than we aught, but that does not entail calling yourself trash either. As human beings we may be broken, but we are still in the image of God, and that is a beautiful thing.
Of course compliments can be a dangerous thing if they are saught after for themselves. I believe pride is one of the things that can most easily destroy someone that could have otherwise been a good man. So although we are not meant to think ourselves as rubbish, nor are we to tend to the other extreme of: “Oh yes, I am amazing. Adore me.” So much in life requires balance.
It is difficult to find the proper place between these two extremes, though it is possible. I would say that you can tell a good deal about a person by how they respond to compliments. If they receive them pridefully it says something about the state of their heart. Conversely, if they refuse to accept them even when they are aptly due, it is very likely that they are lacking self-confidence and need to understand the value that God has given them. The humble man with a sense of value will gratefully acknowledge and accept the praise that is merited, but will not seek after the praise and adoration for its own sake. That is the response that I wish to cultivate in myself.
It’s a long process, but I see God working to bring me away from either of those extremes and towards a Christ-like humility. Hopefully this made some sense to those of you who still read this blog. Wishing you all the best of blessings and hoping that I can be more consistent with my writing. Ciao!