"Son, can you pick up your little men now please?" I asked my three year old who had spread two sets of toys out on the floor to play with.
"Alright", he replies and instantly picks them up and puts them in their box.
Not always is this his response when I ask him to do something, so I immediately said, "Good boy, that makes Mommy so happy when you obey the first time I ask you to do something."
Praise is a powerful tool. Have you ever gotten a new tool or gadget of some kind that only had a specific use so you had to look for opportunities to use it? I often feel this way about praise. Proverbs 27:21 tells us, 'As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.' Praise is a tool we can use to remove the dross in others and to help them purify themselves.
It's so easy to get caught up in annoyance with the negative we see in others--our friends, spouses, even our children. It seems to make more sense to tell another person what they are doing wrong to get them to stop, but truthfully that is entirely the wrong approach.
The verse aforementioned is referring to the process that the precious metals, gold and silver, are put through to remove the scum and dross and worthless material, leaving behind a clean and purer form of the metal. Praise is the Biblical process we use to remove the scum we see in those around us. The truth is we cannot remove this dross by pointing out their mistakes; doing so only irritates them and causes us to be less tolerable.
By praising them instead, we help them to concentrate on the good things that they are doing, and they put forth more effort in those areas! The problem is we are too used to looking for the negative, and will have to learn to look for opportunities to use this new tool! I know I have even had to intentionally look for things in others to praise them for. Sometimes, in the morning, a person may come to mind that I need to praise more. I will focus on those good things that are worthy of praise. If, however, I cannot, then I make a mental note to look for an opportunity in which I can praise them for the good they do today.
Of course, there is so much more the Bible has to say about praising God. I don't know about you, but praising others just does not come naturally to me! I have found that when my priority is to praise God more, praising those around me comes so much easier.
So, instead of trying to get your spouse or your friend to quit that nasty habit, or to stop that annoying way about them, look for the one time they do not do it and grab that opportunity to praise what they did. Tell them you noticed and you were so pleased. Be sincere and consistent in your praise, and you will begin to see lasting effects!
Do not forget, above all, to praise the Lord! If you can learn to praise God, you can praise anyone. Psalm 9:1 says, 'I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.'
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