The Encouragement of Praise (2 Corinthians 7)
Immediately after admonishing the Corinthians, Paul praises them. “I often boast about you; I have great pride in you” (2 Cor. 7:4). It may come as a surprise for some to find Paul boasting so unapologetically about the church in Corinth. Many of us have been brought up to believe that pride is a sin (which is, of course, quite true) and even that pride in someone else’s accomplishments is questionable. Further, we might wonder whether Paul’s pride in the Corinthians is misplaced. This was a congregation beset with many difficulties, and there are some stinging rebukes in his letters to them. He wears no rose-colored glasses when it comes to the Corinthians. But Paul is entirely unabashed by such concerns. He does not shy away from giving praise where praise is due, and it seems that he is genuinely proud of the progress the believers in Corinth have made in spite of his tense relations with them. He notes his pride in them is well deserved, not a cheap trick of flattery (2 Cor. 7:11–13). He repeats in 2 Corinthians 7:14 the point that praise must be genuine when he says, “Everything we said to you was true, so our boasting to Titus has proved true as well.”
This reminds us of the importance of specific, accurate, and timely praise for co-workers, employees, and others with whom we interact at work. Inflated or generalized praise is hollow and may seem insincere or manipulative. And unrelenting criticism destroys rather than builds up. But words of genuine appreciation and gratitude for work well done are always appropriate. They are evidence of mutual respect, the foundation of true community, and they motivate everyone to continue their good work. We all look forward to hearing the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, NIV), and we do well to give similar praise whenever it’s warranted.