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They Say / You Say - 
But What Does God Say? 
 
"Self-praise stinks, a friend's praise is lame, a stranger's praise sounds." - A German Proverb based on Proverbs 27:2
 
"Let our works and life speak for us, not our lips."
- The People's New Testament
 
"Every one will be forward to run him down that cries himself up." 
"Self-praise defiles the mouth."
- both quotes are from Matthew Henry
 
"Avoid self-praise."
- Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary
 
"Praise to be worth anything must be altogether independent."
- Barnes' Notes
 
In 2 Corinthians 10:18, the Apostle Paul made this definitive statement - "For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth."
 
Other versions say it in this way -
 
"What you say about yourself means nothing in God's work. It's what God says about you that makes the difference." - The Message
"It isn't the person who makes his own recommendation who receives approval, but the person whom the Lord recommends." - English Standard Version
"You may brag about yourself, but the only approval that counts is the Lord's approval." - Contemporary English Version
 
Adam Clarke said - "Self-praise is no commendation." The most important applause that we can receive is that which comes from the Lord Jesus. The most important question we can ask ourselves about our life and work is this - Do I have God's approval?
 
Anybody can boast and brag about their own talents, endowments, and attainments. They can easily preach themselves and not Christ.
 
However, it should be the grand aim and purpose of life of every Christian to repress all disposition for vainglory, self-confidence, and all reliance on his own talents and accomplishments. He must never forget that it is not his own estimate of character by which he will be judged but that which is in accordance with God's estimate. The believer should be anxious at all times and in every place to obtain His Divine Favor.
 
In Romans 2:29, Paul made a very bold statement which could have brought him much persecution from the Jews. His statement was this -"But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
                    
One of the main characteristics of the Jews in the time of Christ was to secure honor among men. This is what they strove after...aimed at...and made the goal of their life. Knowing this, Paul came up with a statement - under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit - which said that the real Jew in God's sight was the one who allowed the Holy Spirit to cut away at that fleshly desire for earthly praise. It was the Pharisees - the religious crowd - who sought after the praises of men. But the real Jew - whom God had a hold of - would be the one "whose praise is not of men, but of God." In other words, "whose praise is not from men, but from God." This Jew would be the one who expected praise from Him Who alone searches and knows the hearts of all men - God Himself. 
 
But, as we all know, as we go through this life, we cannot help but receive praise from men. Throughout the Scriptures, we find different ones like Joseph and David who were held in high esteem by others. Here are some of the remarks they received - 
 
In Genesis 41:39, Pharaoh said this of Joseph - "And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art." Here Joseph is commended by a great ruler for his knowledge, prudence, and exceptional  qualifications. 
                                                                                                                              
In 1 Samuel 16:18, one of King Saul's servants made this remark about David - "Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him." He complimented him for his good skill in music...his reputation for great courage and discretion as displayed when he encountered the lion and the bear...and his wise conversation and behavior in that he knew how to carry himself.
 
In 1 Samuel 18:30, the Scripture says this about David - "Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by."  He displayed greater military skills...showed himself to be more expert in the art of war...and was more successful in his attacks on the Philistines than all others. Resultantly, the people held him in high esteem.
 
What about praise coming from another man? Is it wrong to receive it?
 
Proverbs 12:8 says that - "A man shall be commended according to his wisdom..." A man can expect praise from another - not for his birth and pedigree, riches and wealth, or place of honor and trust - but according to the practical proof of wisdom and measure of intelligence which he displays in his words and actions. It is the mouth of the prudent that is commended by men. His careful looking before and after will bring him men's praise.
 
What is to be avoided at all costs is self-praise.
 
Proverbs 27:2 says - "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips." Applauding oneself is no commendation, and it surely defiles the mouth. It is the evidence of pride, folly, and self-love. And it brings a great lessening of one's reputation among others.
 
What is God saying about you? What are others saying? And then again, what are you saying to others about yourself?
 
The People's New Testament exhorts us to - "Let our works and life speak for us, not our lips."
The Contemporary English Version warns - "You may brag about yourself, but the only approval that counts is the Lord's approval."
 
May God Bless His Word.
Connie