Everybody likes getting a bit of recognition and applause.
The other day I was dissecting a human heart (as part of my medical school anatomy learning, not just for the banter!). I was the only guy in the group, and as it was somewhat messy and the girls didn’t want to get too hands on, I was left doing it all myself, holding this heart in my hand, cutting open the various chambers of the heart and feeling around for various structures. And if you donate your body to medical science after you die and they preserve your body so that people can dissect it, whatever they do causes the blood in the atria of the heart (the two top chambers) to solidify into a huge clot, which requires a lot of chipping away at and considerable picking out with tweezers to clear. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t want to eat too soon after doing. And at the end the girls were all like ‘Good job’ and even gave me a wee round of applause. (Is it just me or is praise that bit sweeter when it comes from members of the opposite sex…?)
Stuff like that is great for inflating your ego, making you think you are great. I’m sure you can recall some sort of situation where you got praise for doing something well. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll have had a feeling of satisfaction, and taken some pride in the fact that something you did well was recognised (especially if it is a member of the opposite sex you have managed to impress). But here’s what the Bible has to say about pride: “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:12)
See the thing we need to be careful with when people are telling us that we’ve done something well is that we don’t get an inflated view of our own self-importance. For as Paul tells us in Galatians 6:3 “You are really a nobody.” Anything we are, anything we achieve, any abilities we have, it is all due to God. He is the one who deserves the glory for what He has done, in not just creating us, but redeeming us through the cross. Nothing we do can come close to that.
I’m not saying we should flee from all praise and recognition. And I’m definitely not saying we need a false humility where we go out of our way to talk down our abilities, for that is a denial of the skills God has given us. What I want to suggest is that we need to make sure that when we do find ourselves getting a bit of praise for something we have done is that we remember we have only been able to do it because God has enabled us to, and make sure that we don’t fall into Satan’s trap of thinking we are the big deal when what we have done pales into insignificance compared to the splendour of God. (To return to my dissection, while I may have done a good job of cutting a few holes and clearing out some clots of blood, it was God who created that heart.) And when we are doing things, we need to make sure we are not doing them to get the praise from our friends, or to look good in front of that person we really fancy, but to glorify God and to serve Him using the talents He has given us.
So today, rather than seeking praise for what you have done, seek to glorify God for He alone is worthy. Instead of seeking human approval through the things you do, look only to please your creator. Instead of aiming to impress that special someone, aim to live a life that impresses the special One. Don’t think too highly of yourself, instead think highly of God, and let all the praise go to Him, for all He has done.