In the political realm it seems as if the way to progress is not by praising the good in someone else but by highlighting their deficiencies. A quick glance at social media will see people emphasising the faults of others.
The scriptures do command the believer to praise other people and to do that with the right motive. Praising, or affirming, others does bring glory to God. As we see something of God in other people, we can praise that.
Undoubtedly there will be something praiseworthy in every person. Mankind was created to reflect God’s image.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).
Being created in the ‘image of God’ means that something of God could be seen in man. It was not that he would be ‘as God’ but that some of the attributes of God would be seen in him. Sadly, when sin entered the world, it had a devastating impact. The consequences of Adam’s sin meant that man was separated from God and the image was deformed. But the image has not been destroyed. Even in the worst of people something of the ‘image of God’ can be faintly seen. For example, there will usually be love and care for someone!
For His people, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, God is changing them so that they become like His Son, the One who is the express image of God.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Every single believer is being restored by God. The image of God is being formed in them and it is all to His glory.
“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6b).
Why should I praise other people?
The Bible commands us to do so, and provides examples for us of how and why to praise others.
In ancient times, a God-fearing woman was to be praised at the city gates.
“But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30b).
It is a good and necessary thing to find reasons to praise other people to the glory of God. Even the Corinthian believers, who had their fair share of problems, were praised by Paul.
“Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2).
Paul had rightly admonished them for their ungodly behaviour and tolerance of sin yet he could still praise them for all that was praiseworthy.
As you reflect upon this it should cause you to think, “Is my inclination to look for something to praise or something to criticise?”
When I praise another person, it should be with the ultimate purpose of bringing glory and worship to God. If there is anything praiseworthy in what someone has done it is because God has given them the gifts, talents or resources needed to perform that action. This is true for all people, believers and unbelievers.
When my unbelieving friend shows compassion and care for a sick person there is a demonstration of God’s image. They can be rightly praised when I tell them that it reminds me of God’s care for the helpless. This certainly praises God and may lead on to a gospel conversation.
The father who intentionally praises his children for tidying their rooms can teach them that God loves order, and works for the good of others.
Praising others for displaying something of God’s image requires initiative and intentionality. All of us need help in this area. It requires a focus of the mind to think on what should be praised and how I can give that praise.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Those who receive praise are refreshed and invigorated. This does not mean we should not admonish or constructively criticise but it does mean healthy God-honouring praise is a ministry every believer ought to be involved in.
Before we leave this brief meditation let me raise the stakes. James reminds us that, if we know what to do but then do not do it, that’s sin.
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
May we look to the Lord to give us the wisdom and the grace to praise whatever we can, with the right words and the right motive.