There is a section of scripture found toward the end of Romans chapter 2 (verses 25-29a) in which the topic has to do with how our actions reveal the condition of our heart a lot more effectively than do our appearances.
That section ends with this beautiful phrase:
“....whose praise is not from men but from God.” (Romans 2:29b)
I recently observed the wife of a young man over whose soul I watch as his pastor as she publicly praised him for his excellence as a husband. I pay attention to this young couple and I, too, have seen what she sees: that this man loves her and is an excellent husband to her.
(I have also observed her excellence as a wife which was exemplified by her praise of him.)
As I read her lovely and true comments I felt prompted by the Lord to contact him privately and tell him how I appreciated the man and husband he is. His instinctive response was to dismiss my praise.
Why did he do this? He did it in the name of humility. He IS a humble man.
Still, it grieved me. I felt the Lord Himself was praising this young man through me.
It seemed to be a gift from God too valuable to dismiss – even in the name of humility.
There exist among us….lost people and born again people. Many in both groups seem determined to cause other mere mortals to admire them…to praise them…to appreciate them.
In order to accomplish this they promote themselves in a myriad of ways – some subtle and some fairly blatant. However they do it….it is manipulation and manipulation is a form of witchcraft.
Read 1 Kings 21 sometime and see Jezebel as she manipulates her community in order to get what she wants. Then read as Jezebel and her manipulations are referred to as witchcraft:
“What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?” (2 Kings 9:22b)
Why do people do this? Why do people manipulate other humans in order to squeeze praises out of them?
So many people are motivated to do it because they feel less than, insecure, empty, and valueless.
So many Christians actually DO IT because they do not trust the Lord to provide their needs.
They do not believe Holy Spirit as He assures us through the pen of Apostle Paul:
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
People have an incredible need to be recognized and praised.
God placed that need in us AND He wishes to be the Source of that praise.
In His Word He clearly tells us how to live worthy of His praise and
He is motivated to pour out His praise on we Christians…His children.
However, in our desperation….in our lack of trust in Him…in our confidence in our own fleshly manipulations….we so often hustle other mere mortals to praise us.
And the “glory”, such as it is, rests on the witchcraft we practice…and not on God Who surely deserves it.
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19-20)
Some know that their manipulations to cause others to praise them are sin (even if they never labelled them as witchcraft.) They overreact by deflecting God’s praises through yielded brothers and sisters in Christ….attempting to make or keep themselves humble.
Manipulation is, after all, still manipulation – even when we try to
I am confident in my writing of these things because I know I have practiced both.
It’s only natural that we do such things…but, in Christ, we are supernatural beings. We no longer have to live like that…..obsessed with things of the earth.
Back at the end of Romans 2 the topic was motivations. Some people were physically circumcised but did not live in ways that glorified the God with Whom their circumcision identified them.
Physically they LOOKED like they were His people but their hearts spoke otherwise.
Other people were Gentiles and, therefore, were not physically circumcised but their lifestyles revealed that their HEARTS were circumcised. These were the ones of whom the Word said:
“....whose praise is not from men but from God.” (Romans 2:29b)
This has been written to encourage Christians to live in such a way as to please God.
The best way for this to happen is for us to allow the Holy Spirit of God to bring repentance to us and the best way for THAT to happen is for us to receive and enjoy the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance (restraint), and longsuffering (patience).
Why? Because it is the goodness of God that leads us (literally escorts us) to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Repentance is a matter of learning to abandon earthly ideas on how to live and to embrace, instead, God’s ideas.
As we walk in a gradually more and more habitual lifestyle of repentance we will find ourselves abandoning our manipulative efforts to make others notice, appreciate, applaud and praise us. We’ll stop advertising and marketing ourselves as products for consumers and they will stop devouring us.
“The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” (Proverb 14:14)
We will find ourselves seeing God’s praises for what they are and receiving them. Our souls will be satisfied.
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:7-9)
So, how shall we live?
If we seek not the plaudits of mere men we will never hunger for them in their absence. We will never grow desperate for them.
If we seek not the plaudits of mere men we will never grow prideful in their presence. We will receive their praises as if they are from our Father.
If we seek the praises of God by living in ways that please Him, we WILL find them.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
And if we truly trust the Lord we will seek most of all His Kingdom:
“….seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness….” (Mathew 6:33a)
God will meet our needs.
“….and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mathew 6:33b)
May it be so with all of us!
I began this article by sharing about a conversation I had with a young man that I watch over as his pastor.
Here is how I ended that conversation as I attempted to encourage him to allow God to praise through me that night:
“Sometimes we just have to accept the fact that God has done good things in us.”
I would add, “When God praises us through other people and we haven’t done anything to manipulate them to do it all we have to do is say, ‘Thank you’ and enjoy the favor of God.”
May all who read this allow the Spirit of God to cause them to live in such a way as to please the Lord and may they all experience the praises of God.