A Show of Appreciation

A show of loving appreciation is different from flattery. Christian courtesy and praise from a fellow Christian is itself a very good testimony of our faith in the Lord. —Johnny Cash 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. —Proverbs 3:27 ESV 

As a student of Scripture, Johnny Cash understood the surface appeal of flattery. He also understood its drawbacks and dangers. The first drawback is that flattery is often insincere. It focuses on surface-y things—things that require no effort or time to recognize. Flattery also usually has an agenda. Some people offer it to call attention to themselves—to make sure that others recognize their kindness and impeccable character. Other people use flattery as a prelude to asking for a favor or trying to manipulate someone in some way. 

Flattery is dangerous to those who fall for it. When they finally recognize it for what it is, they lose a little self-confidence. They don’t know who to trust, so they build emotional barriers to keep other people from manipulating them. They’re left feeling used and cynical about others. 

Sincere praise, on the other hand, can be life-changing—in the best possible sense. A show of loving appreciation can transform the way people look at themselves. It can open their eyes to possibilities they never imagined before. This is especially true for people who aren’t used to hearing positive things about themselves. 

Think of the most meaningful word of praise you ever got from someone. What made it so special? What did it do for your self-image? What impact did it have on your life? 

Johnny Cash suggests that a show of loving appreciation for someone else is an outflow of God’s love for us. It’s also strong evidence of our relationship with Him. He pours into us so that we can pour into others. 

Sincere praise goes beyond the surface. It says to the person, “I see something meaningful inside you—something substantial that could make a godly difference in other people’s lives.” A show of loving appreciation can help people recognize their God-given gifts and give them direction in how to put those gifts to use. 

Sincere praise has no agenda other than speaking truth to people in a way that builds them up. But it must absolutely start with the truth. Telling people what we think they want to hear, when it’s not necessarily true, does no one any good. God doesn’t want us to mislead one another. He wants us to take the time and effort to recognize the good in others—the unique abilities He wove into our skill sets. 

Sincere praise doesn’t come natural to everyone. It’s something we have to work at. We must train ourselves to look for opportunities to offer sincere praise in our daily lives. We’ll find those opportunities everywhere. So we also need the courage and creativity to voice our praise in a memorable way. 

Johnny Cash underscores the most important effect of sincere praise: bringing glory to the God we serve. The kind of courtesy and praise Johnny Cash calls believers to is rare in our world. When people see and hear it, they pay attention. They’re drawn to it, as well as to the One who inspires it. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the people in my life who modeled loving appreciation and Christian praise. Let me learn from their example so that I can make a difference in other people’s lives. Give me the discernment to recognize flattery for what it is. Give me the wisdom to know how to praise people in a way that will make a difference in their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

This is an excerpt from Walking the Line: 90 Devotions of Truth and Hope Based on the Faith of Johnny Cash a new devotional now available on DaySpring.com. Shop all books, journals, and devotions from DaySpring here.