12 Minute Read
To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.
Today’s Bible Reading:
Listen to the Lord
Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.
Proverbs 27:2 (NLT): “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth — a stranger, not your own lips.”
Reflections from Scripture:
Proverbs 27:2 is really easy to understand, isn’t it? Don’t brag about yourself. If it happens, let someone else do it.
Yet, as Jesus-followers, we are supposed to be influencers. According to Matthew 5:13-16, we are salt and light. We don’t sit back and wait for things to happen. We are the initiators. So, let’s talk about actively praising others.
We all like to be praised, don’t we? We like it when someone sees something valuable in us or in something we did, and they verbalize their affirmation.
When I think of public praise, I can’t help but think back to the time recounted in Scripture when John the Baptist was discouraged. He was sitting in prison and second-guessing whether or not Jesus was truly the Messiah. He believed that Jesus was, but he needed reassurances. So, John sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus for reaffirmation.
Matthew 11:2-3 (NLT): “John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’”
John had already proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). But now, John was severely discouraged. He was sitting in prison, realizing that this all wasn’t playing out like he thought it would. His faith was struggling. He needed assurances.
So, as we read from Matthew 11:4-6, we will hear Jesus answer John’s question. Jesus graciously gave John’s disciples enough information to build his faith.
But, John needed more than information. He was discouraged and needed to be built up. His problem wasn’t so much cognitive as it was emotional and spiritual. He didn’t merely need answers … he needed powerful words of encouragement and praise.
In Matthew’s account, Jesus used 3 verses to answer John’s question. Yet, he used 9 verses (3 times as many) to encourage and praise John.
And here’s how it played out…
Jesus gave John’s disciples proof of His identity. He gave them an answer to their question. But, as they were walking away, Jesus raised His voice to talk to the crowds, easily within earshot of John’s disciples. So they would have clearly heard what Jesus was saying as they were departing.
This is a lengthy text but listen to how Jesus praised John, intending for John’s disciples to hear it so that they could go back and encourage a discouraged man in prison.
Matthew 11:7-15 (NLT):
“As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. ‘What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.”
I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
Wow! Jesus said that there was no one greater than John in the Kingdom of God (where greatness is measured by humility and service). He said that John was the promised “Elijah” that had been foretold in the Old Testament, and he had faithfully fulfilled his duty.
Can you see the scene in your mind’s eye? As John’s disciples began to hear Jesus talking about their teacher, they would have walked slower and may have even stopped to listen. Then, when Jesus finished, they would have picked up the pace, maybe run, to tell John those powerful words that Jesus had just said about him in front of the large, gathered crowd.
I imagine that the discouraged prophet would have listened to what those disciples said. As they recounted the words of Jesus with excitement, I can imagine that John would have had a refreshing smile slowly creep across his face. His heart would have been warmed. It would have felt so good to hear that affirmation. It is what his soul so desperately needed in those moments.
Friend, you have the power within your own mouth to build up or to tear down today. You can say things that will discourage others, or you can say something so powerful and positive that it could change the course of their life.
Why not choose to praise people today. Don’t wait on others to praise you. Insecure, self-centered people will rarely ever praise you. So, ask God’s Holy Spirit to help you honor them. Who knows how it could help someone who may desperately need those words today.
Spend Time in Prayer
Lord Jesus, You have given me lungs, vocal cords, and a mouth that are strictly biological material. Yet, my mind could easily choose to use those things to say words that could change the course of someone’s day, maybe even their life. So help me, Lord, to use my words to encourage and praise others today, especially those who might be discouraged and need affirmation. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.
Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.