How to Accept Praise with Two Simple Words
Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18
I was still new in my faith, and that morning, I sat like a firework in the front pew. My heart was eager, ignitable.
Our church had a guest speaker, and I hung on every word, as if I were hearing the gospel for the first time. His fiery words were like a match on my spiritual fuse.
After the service ended, I weaved through the crowds to tell the speaker how his words had moved me.
I had barely uttered the words, “thank you,” when he began to vigorously shake his head at me.
“You shouldn’t be thanking me,” he said, jabbing his index finger heavenward. “You should be thanking God.”
It felt like a rebuke. I walked away embarrassed—and a lot less firework-ish.
For a long time, that encounter with a respected Christian leader shaped my thinking on how Christians should handle affirmation from others. I brushed off praise for my accomplishments in the workplace, and I rarely knew what to say when people praised my work on the church worship committee.
I became allergic to compliments.
I know a lot of Christians who feel the same way. They are worried that if they accept praise, they are stealing God’s glory and his spotlight. But like me, they agree that it feels awkward—if not unkind—to wave off praise and point to heaven, as if to say, “Don’t thank me; thank God.”
To be sure, the Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Corinth: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
But that doesn’t mean we have to duck from kind words. We aren’t stealing God’s glory if we offer a simple “thank you” when someone compliments our performance at the office, our frosted cookies at the bake sale, or our song at the worship service. Our lives exist inside of Christ, and Christ exists inside of us. What comes out in his name is a product of what God designed us to do.
True humility doesn’t mean we wave off affirmation. God put gifts at work inside of us. True humility is genuine “thanks,” delivered with grace.
Today, in your work, remember that you are free to shine for Jesus. Because of Jesus. Your life as a faithful, working Christian is a “boast in the Lord.” All glory goes to your Maker because he’s the author of every good endeavor. When someone praises you for the gifts that God has graciously given to you, a great response includes a smile and two simple words: “Thank you.”
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What gifts has God given you that give him glory? Do you feel like you’re stealing God’s praise if you say “thank you” when offered praise for those gifts? Can you identify Christians in your life who graciously accept praise, without stealing glory from God?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, in your grace, you have given each of us different gifts to do things well for your glory. Help us to remember that because you live within us, our use of those gifts automatically brings you glory. Help us to remember that we don’t have to perform spiritual acrobatics to “boast in the Lord.” We pray this in your name and for your glory. Amen.