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What child do you know that does not like to be praised? They desire the praise
of their parents and parents do well to encourage their children in this way.
Adults also like to
receive the approval of people they respect. There is nothing wrong with this. Honest praise can be very encouraging and can bring out the best in us. The Bible tells us to look forward to the day when we will receive praise from God (1 Cor. 4:5). The problem, however, is that we often place more value on applause we receive from people in this life than on praise from God in the life to come.
Teenagers are often talked to about the dangers of peer pressure. We don't
want teens to give in to pressure and do things that are wrong just to be considered
"cool" by their
peers. Yet are we (the adults) wiling to "give in" to our friends when they want us to do something that God would rather us not? When we miss worshipping the Lord because we are doing something else (traveling, visiting friends, or playing), all we have accomplished is to show those around us that we put more value on the world than we do on God. How will we ever teach our friends, neighbors and family when they see us sacrificing God for other activities?
I suppose this is nothing new. We read of those believers in the Bible who "loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
"Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (Jno. 12:42,43).
May God help us to think more long term about our actions. When we forsake the Lord, it has a much greater effect than just on ourselves. It also affects our brethren, our influence with those around us, and our children! If we are truly going to seek the Kingdom and God's righteousness first as Jesus said (Matt. 6:33), then it requires everything else to be behind them. Let us put more emphasis on our standing before God than we do on the praise of man!
By Shane Williams in The Lilbourn Light, Vol. 7, No. 5, Sept. 2006.
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