Do Not Withhold Praise
HOW a word of praise can brighten your day! It makes all your efforts seem worth while, and encourages you to continue to do what is praiseworthy. Fine benefits are realized when praise is not withheld.
Jesus Christ recognized the value of giving praise, for in an illustration he represented himself as the master who commended his slaves: “Well done, good and faithful slave!” (Matt. 25:21, 23) Jesus did not withhold praise from his followers when they had done well. Neither does Jehovah God withhold praise from his servants who are worthy of it. In due time, the scripture says, “each one will have his praise come to him from God.”—1 Cor. 4:5.
Early Christians also praised those who were deserving, as the apostle Paul shows in his letter to the Corinthians: “We are sending along with [Titus] the brother whose praise in connection with the good news has spread through all the congregations.” Certainly these expressions of commendation for the fine work of this unnamed brother were a source of encouragement to him. The effect, no doubt, was to make him even more zealous in spreading the good news.—2 Cor. 8:18.
It is interesting to note, however, how balanced God’s Word is in this matter of giving praise. Although indicating the value of commending humans, it is careful to condemn flattery, which is false, insincere or excessive praise. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica: “At no time have we turned up either with flattering speech, (just as you know) or with a false front for covetousness, God is witness!” (1 Thess. 2:5) Furthermore, the Bible condemns the praising of a person in such a way that he is being given worshipful honors. For that reason, when King Herod accepted the praise of the people who shouted, “A god’s voice, and not a man’s!” the angel of Jehovah struck him, because he did not give glory to God.—Acts 12:22, 23.
Worshipful praise is fitting only for God. It is something that every one of us ought to give to God. Not only does the Bible itself contain such praise, but it urges us to join in the chorus, saying: “Praise Jah, you people!”—Ps. 148, 150.
Such praise is wholesome and fitting; on the other hand, excessive praise of humans can be dangerous. This is illustrated by the example of Absalom, the attractive son of David. “Now compared with Absalom there proved to be no man so beautiful in all Israel as to be praised so much,” the scripture says. But all this praise had a bad effect, for Absalom became haughty and sought to usurp the throne of his father David. This led to terrible consequences, including Absalom’s violent death.—2 Sam. 14:25.
It is evident, therefore, that praise that glorifies and exalts a person can result in harm and is displeasing to God. However, fear of glorifying humans should not cause one to withhold giving praise altogether. It has its place.
Proper praise is encouraging, for it gives one the assurance that what has been done is acceptable, that one’s efforts have not been unnoticed or in vain. On the other hand, when praise is withheld, relations between individuals are not as warm and pleasant as they might be.
This was once noted by a dinner guest. After a delicious meal he remarked to his friend that his wife was a good cook. The host smiled. “Sure,” he said, “I know it, but I’m not telling her about it.” Perhaps the man felt that a word of praise would make his wife conceited. Whatever the reason, the host noted that relations in that home were not as pleasant as in homes where appreciative expressions of praise were bestowed upon family members meriting commendation.
A capable wife is deserving of praise, and that she should receive it is indicated by the proverb: “Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner rises up, and he praises her.” Knowledge that she is appreciated makes it easier for her to do her work and causes her to try even harder to please.—Prov. 31:28.
Husbands likewise respond to sincere expressions of praise, be it only an exclamation concerning the fine polish he gave the car or his good job of carving the meat. Creatures thrive on praise. It can be like oil that will make the machinery of life run more smoothly. So do not withhold honest praise.
Children will improve in their conduct and work when they receive praise. True, they need discipline, but they also benefit from praise when it is due. One mother, who often had to discipline her child, relates that one day her daughter was especially good. “That night,” she explained, “after I tucked her in bed and started downstairs, I heard her sobbing. Turning back, I found her head buried in the pillow. Between sobs she asked, ‘Haven’t I been a pretty good girl today?’” The mother admitted that the question went through her like a knife. She had always been quick to correct her daughter, but now when her child had tried hard to behave, she put her to bed without one word of appreciation.
Since praise can mean so much, do not withhold it. Be generous with praise. And especially, “Praise Jah, you people, for it is good to make melody to our God; for it is pleasant—praise is fitting.”—Ps. 147:1.