The longer and closer we walk with God, the more we realize how He uses every opportunity to shape and mold us – to chip, file, and sand the rough edges – as we are gradually “conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29). This is His desire for everyone who trusts in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin.
We often learn through personal experience how our trials are used to teach us valuable lessons and refine us into Children of God with the character of Christ; “the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3). Our trials teach us to persevere in the faith and to trust God with all our heart. But a more subtle refinement of our character occurs as we receive praise for who we are or for what we’ve accomplished.
“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.”
This isn’t simply referring to how we verbally respond to a compliment; rather, it is the response of our heart which reveals our true belief and submission. God is the sovereign Creator and Lord of ALL! All our abilities and gifts were given by Him. He deserves ALL the praise and maintains the right to redirect us as He chooses. Our motivation must be our love for God and our desire to serve Him through all we do – it must never be driven by the praises of man.
The praise we receive from others is not an indication of God’s approval nor a valid measure of success. We take far too much ownership of accomplishments and most often we simply forget: “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Every step of our journey must be established by God and accomplished in His strength. Every day there are those who refuse to turn to God because they fear the loss of status and praise; “they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:42-43). And every day there are those who are diverted in their walk because of a gluttonous desire to feed their pride-filled ego. Unrestrained pride will always choke our relationship with Jesus.
As we are transformed, we WILL begin to accomplish His work; “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). But as praises come for the work we accomplish, we must present them to God for His approval and guidance. He may return the praise as a Heavenly blessing, but He may also dismiss it as an unnecessary distraction and ask us to walk in a new direction. Either way, we must continue to serve with an obedient and loving heart. Let’s be determined to never lose our focus as a result of being refined and tested by praise.
Have a Christ Centered Day!
God’s Daily Word Ministries