PASSING THE TEST OF PRAISE

WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL

FEBRUARY 21, 2023

TOPIC: PASSING THE TEST OF PRAISE

BY T. O. BANSO

“A hot furnace tests silver and gold, and people are tested by the praise they receive” (Proverbs 27:21 New Century Version).

Everybody loves to be praised, not criticized. But are you easily swayed by the praise of others? Are you sometimes or often influenced by praise to do what you normally should not do or is wrong? Do you allow the praise of men to go to your head?

Some people work for the praise of men. John 12:43 says that many among the Jewish rulers believed in Jesus but did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Do you love the praise of men more than that of God?

Praise could be well-deserved or exaggerated, which is also called flattery. Proverbs 29:5 says, “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet” (New King James Version). Whichever one comes to you, know that everyone will face the test of praise. When people praise you, you are faced with a test about how you will react. Not everyone passes this test. You must be careful how you respond to people’s praise.

Sometimes people have wrong motives for praising you. They could want some favours from you and so praise you first before they make them their requests. Be careful that you are not deceived by their praise to grant a request that you will later regret.

However, even if those who praise you don’t have an ulterior motive but it is just an expression of admiration or approval, don’t lose your head because of this. Exercise self-control. Don’t become proud or arrogant. Don’t let men’s praise make you feel superior to others. Rather, thank those who praise you and deflect the praise to God because you are who you are by His grace. There is nothing that you have that you didn’t receive from Him (1 Corinthians 4:7). Also, don’t let people’s praise make you become over-ambitious or overwork yourself because you want to continue to earn their praise. Neither should you let it make you complacent.

Proverbs 27:21 says, “A hot furnace tests silver and gold, and people are tested by the praise they receive” (New Century Version). In other words, just as fire refines and tests silver and gold, praise tests human beings. Their reaction shows their true character. You don’t know someone yet until you see his reaction to praise. The praise test will show whether he is proud/arrogant or humble. How do you react to praise? “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised” (Proverbs 27:21 New Living Translation).

God tests our hearts just as fire tests silver and gold. “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts” (Proverbs 17:3 New King James Version). Psalm 66:10 says, “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined” (New King James Version). Zechariah 13:9 also refers to God refining His people as silver is refined and testing them as gold is tested.

Acts 12:20-23 shows us how King Herod reacted to praise. Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. Having made Blastus, the king’s personal aide, their friend, they came and asked for peace, because the king’s country supplied them with food. As Herod sat on his throne and gave an oration to them, the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” In other words, they praised him. Verse 23 says, “Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (New King James Version). Note the phrase: because he did not give glory to God.

Herod’s sin was that he didn’t give glory to God. When people praise you, deflect it to God. Don’t let people kill you! No matter how God uses you, don’t let the praise of men make you forget that you are still a human being!

In Genesis 41:15-16, we can see how Joseph deflected Pharaoh’s praise of him to God. Somebody else would have blown his trumpet before Pharaoh, particularly to secure his release from prison. “And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.’ So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace’” (Genesis 41:15-16 New King James Version).

Note Joseph’s answer: It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace. That’s not what many people would say. Unlike what John the Baptist said in John 3:30 that Jesus must increase but he must decrease, those who would not deflect praise to God would want God to decrease and they increase!

As I have said, everybody loves to be praised and not criticized because we consider criticism harmful! But praise will harm you more if you don’t respond to it well. How do you react when someone else, and not you, is praised? Or how do you react when someone is praised more than you?

In 1 Samuel 18:6-7, the Bible tells us how King Saul reacted when David was praised more than he was. “Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’” (New King James Version).

The princes of the Philistines referred to the women’s praise of David thus: “Is this not David, of whom they sang to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?” (1 Samuel 29:5 New King James Version).

How did Saul react to how the women praised David? Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ So Saul eyed David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 18:8-9 New King James Version). Saul failed the test of praise as he became envious of David and plotted how to kill him. Some people today have a similar attitude toward praise. Out of envy, they could kill those being praised. They believe they must be the ones being praised, not others

1 Samuel 18:15-16 says, “Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them” (New King James Version). This must have made Saul even angrier and more determined to kill David. But everyone continued to love him. “Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually. Then the princes of the Philistines went out to war. And so it was, whenever they went out, that David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed” (verse 29-30 New King James Version). Saul pursued David to kill him until he died, and David later became king.

Just as Saul failed the test of praise, Absalom, David’s son appeared to have also. The people’s praise of him for his beauty might have gone to his head and he stole the hearts of the men of Israel to make himself king in place of his father, who had to flee Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:1-37).

See what the Bible says about his beauty: “Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him” (2 Samuel 14:25 New King James Version).

Absalom’s beauty was similar to that of Saul whom the Bible says there was not a more handsome person than among the children of Israel; from his shoulders upward, he was taller than any of the people (1 Samuel 9:2). The people’s praise of Absalom because of his beauty probably contributed to his rebellion against his father.

Absalom was proud of his heavy hair. “And when he cut the hair of his head-at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him-when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king’s standard” (2 Samuel 14:26 New King James Version).

Unfortunately, the same heavy hair was responsible for his death! 2 Samuel 18:9 says, “During the battle Absalom came upon some of David’s men and as he fled on his mule, it went beneath the thick boughs of a great oak tree, and his hair caught in the branches. His mule went on, leaving him dangling in the air” (The Living Bible). When one of David’s men saw Absalom and told Joab, he took three daggers and plunged them into the heart of Absalom as he dangled alive from the oak (verse 14). He died and his rebellion was quashed.

Don’t let the people’s praise make you arrogant or complacent; don’t let it distract you from your goals. Receive praise with humility and deflect it to God. Don’t let people’s praise make you behave inappropriately. Be careful about the decisions you make when people praise you. Be sober and not get carried away by people’s praise.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart.  By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

PRAYER POINTS: Father, I thank You for everything You have done for me and through me. Increase in my life and let me decrease. Holy Spirit, help me to receive praise with humility and deflect it to God. Deliver me from the praise of men that can destroy me. I shall not be a victim of flattery or be swayed by people’s praise in Jesus’ name.

(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).

T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947
Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
cedarministryng@gmail.com
Website: www.cedarministry.org