Is there such a thing as false praise?
I think there is: it’s when someone says something so very, very “praiseful” (is that really a word?), but their intention is not to praise but to receive praise.
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For example, let’s go to Luke 11:27, where after teaching about how a house divided against itself cannot stand, and that evil spirits may repossess a person even after being cleansed, this happened:
As Yeshua was saying these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice to call out, “How blessed is the mother that gave birth to you and nursed you from her breast!” But he said, “Far more blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”
Did you notice how Yeshua pretty much ignored the praise?
And this isn’t the only time he did something like that.
In Luke 14:15, Yeshua is at a dinner and teaching that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted, when someone at the table says:
How blessed are those who eat bread in the kingdom of God!
Yeshua again ignores this comment and goes directly into a drash (parable) about the man who had invited people to a banquet, but when they all came up with an excuse, he invited beggars and the lame so that his house would be full, and none of the ones he did invite would be allowed in.
I may be a little off-center with this, but I feel that the way Yeshua reacted to these praises, which was to let them go by without acknowledging them, was because he recognized the praise was meant not to glorify him or God, but intended so that the one giving it would be acknowledged.
I believe Yeshua recognized this as false praise because the one praising wanted to be the one receiving praise.
Again, I confess this may be a pet-peeve of my own, but I have often heard people say things that I feel- in my spirit- is not genuine praise for God or Yeshua but said in order for the one praising to receive the praise of others.
“Oh, that is such a wonderful thing to say! That person must be so spiritually aware.”
“Oh, my! What wonderful praise to be given.”
“I wish I had said that- they’re so spiritually mature and wise.”
Haven’t you seen this in your house of worship? Aren’t there those who give praise like they were handing out candy on Halloween?
Now, don’t get me wrong! I praise God all the time and believe there is nothing better to do than praise God. But I don’t think it should be done in the way Yeshua accused the Pharisees of doing it- having longer tzitzit, making a public spectacle of their worship, trying to appear so spiritual, but all that in order to receive praise from people.
Okay, I’m a cynical person- so, sue me! But I absolutely know for sure that there are people who do things to appear spiritual and worshipful, but underneath it all, their praise is designed to receive, not to give.
They don’t fool me, and I know they don’t fool God.
So, nu? What’s today’s take-away?
When you praise, do so the way Yeshua said in Matthew 6; privately, so that your father in heaven will reward you. He warns us that those who seek public approval or recognition will receive it, but that is all they will get. So, if you feel a genuine desire to praise God or Yeshua, do so under your breath- don’t worry, they will hear you.
If you ask me, the best praise we can give to God is simply to act the way God wants us to act.
People don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do, so let people see your praise to God all the time by the way you act.
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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and (and early) Shabbat Shalom!