We all want to hear the praises of others. It is very important that we each learn who to listen to early in our lives. I will warn you that the praise of men stroke the pride in each of us. When you are playing sports, you are hoping to hear the applause of the fans for you when you make that winning shot. When I was a boy, I would shoot baskets alone, or throw a ball by myself, or hit a ball and I would become the radio announcer. I would tell the situation with the game on the line, and me in the center of the field/court with all eyes on me. I would even make the sounds of the crowd as I prepared to do the amazing athletic activity! All of us have this desire in our lives.
I want to warn you of two things. First, the Devil will always have people around you that will cheer you when you do the wrong things. He will use this applause to encourage you to get out of the will of God, just to hear the praise! Be careful of that. The second thing about the praise of men is that it usually is fairly empty. It sounds good when you are hearing it, but it does not last very long. People often praise you, just to say the words. Solomon had these words to say about it: “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:5).
There will always be a fool ready to sing your song. Their motivation might be to get you to join their cause. It might be to get you off the track from doing what is right. It might be, to prepare you to help them, or join their cause in the future. It might be just an empty song, just for the sake of singing. Whatever the motivation, it is important for you and I to avoid this kind of praise.
Knowing that we each desire to hear praise from others; and knowing that fools will be ready to give praise; let’s determine that we will do all we can to listen instead for the “rebuke” of the wise. Hmmmm … would I rather hear praise, or rebuke? I would rather the praise, but the reality is that it is the rebuke that will benefit me the most. Today, make it a point to look for those who are willing to help you by saying the difficult things to you. These are the ones who will help us more than those who give empty flattery. Also, try to be the person who is honest with those you love. Don’t be foolish and give empty compliments and praise in order to make friends.