The apostle Paul often praised others for their “works of faith” and “labors of love” (I Thessalonians 1:3). He commended the Philippian Christians (especially Epaphroditus; Philippians 1:5; 2:25 – 30). Clement, Aquila, Priscilla and Onesiphorous – all these and many others were praised and commended for their unselfish service to him in the work of Christ (Philippians 4:3; Romans 16:3 – 4; II Timothy 1:16 – 18).
He also said we should follow his example in Christ (I Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 4:8 – 9). Praising others is one way we can do that. Let us not just look on the ugly and on the evil. When we see virtues in others, let us acknowledge them with kind words of sincere affection. Have you ever noticed that when someone praises you, you want to repeat the behavior that caused it? It can be a powerful way to motivate others when it is authentic.
Often we are quick to criticize and condemn a fellow Christian. Even if it is justified, are we equally ready to notice when a person is doing the right thing? Perhaps our negative judgment will be better received and will have more weight if we praise the good. All of us need positive reinforcement.
For example, it is easy to fall into the “gripe and complain” trap and make our children feel inadequate, unwanted and unappreciated. Am I saying you should not correct your children? Of course not. However, if we are going to constantly remind them when they fail, why not encourage them with praise when they do well?
Husbands and wives need this lesson too. Men, do you praise your wives? Do you tell her how important she is? Do you let her know how much you need her and how much you appreciate what she does to help make your home a happy one? Do you give honor to your wife (I Peter 3:7)? Wives, when was the last time you thanked him for his hard work and his investment in the stability and future of your family? Do you let him know that you are grateful for his love and care for you and the children?
To my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ: when was the last time you thanked your child’s Bible class teacher or the song leader? Often, the preacher is praised while others who work and serve in less public ways are never given any notice or commendation. Praise. Affirmation. Encouragement. Can we do better? Will we?