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Too many professing Christians seem too concerned with receiving praise from man. Jeremy Ham, AiG–U.S., explains that the praise of God is far greater.
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they 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. (John 12:42–43)
Today’s big question: will God praise us?
God giving praise to fallible human beings seems inconceivable, yet today’s passage teaches us that confessing Christ will cause us to receive praise from God. Throughout Scripture, we are commanded to praise God; after all, He is God and worthy of praise. But why will God praise those who confess Christ?
First of all, keep in mind the praise received from God is different from the praise we should give to God. The word “praise” is a generic term that can have many meanings. When we praise God, we should praise Him with reverence since He is God. When this passage refers to the “praise of God,” it simply means favor from God.
True faith in Christ is not an easy road. As Christians, we are to boldly profess our faith in word and deed, but the Pharisees placed their faith in mankind rather than God. This passage indicates God is pleased when people express true faith in Christ, since God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). However, receiving praise from God should not be our focus, as we should praise and glorify God for His unending mercy and grace.
Which would you rather have: fallible and fickle human beings praising you or the infallible, all-powerful, all-knowing God praising you? The answer seems obvious that the latter would be the preference. Nonetheless, the Pharisees preferred the praise of men rather than God. They were afraid to lose their positions of authority, which is a major reason why they refused to confess Christ.
Many focus on the Pharisees and how bad it was for them to love the praise of men, but what about the people that were giving the praise? Why were they praising the Pharisees rather than God? Sadly, exalting man is a common theme even today. For example, when it comes to the Word of God or word of men, many choose the word of men over God’s inerrant Word.
We can learn many things from this passage. Confessing Christ is the most important truth to which we should respond. We must not let the mere praise of men interfere with our relationship with God. As we go about the Christian walk, let us be diligent in all things and give all the glory to God. Then in that final day, God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” to those who have been faithful (Matthew 25:23).
Today’s big idea: God praises those who confess Christ as their Savior.
What to pray: ask God to help us give all the glory to Him even when people praise us.