Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

Praise of Men or of God?

In this last installment concerning what brother N. B. Hardeman viewed as dangers facing the church decades ago, we will be considering the fourth danger he listed: “A love for the praise of men more than the praise of God, lest they be put out of someone’s social circle.”
As far as getting to heaven is concerned, the praises of men are not to be sought, nor are they of any benefit! This is especially true if one is seeking praise of men instead of being concerned with what God teaches or desires. Paul asked a number of rhetorical questions in I Corinthians 3:1 when he asked, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?” Another statement on this subject was given In II Corinthians 10:12:  “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” Then in verse 18 of the same chapter he says, “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.” Perhaps the individual would be more likely to speak more favorably of himself than others; and yet Paul shows that this is useless and vain. Now if I should not seek the opportunity to praise myself (“toot your own horn” as my mother used to say) why should I seek the praise of anyone else?  After all, God is the only one that we are to seek to please (Gal. 1:9-10).  
An example of what brother Hardeman is referring to is found in John 12:42-43: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on 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.”   
And Jesus expounded on this subject again in the book of Luke: “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).  He made it even plainer in verse 26 when He added, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Don’t believe I see any incentive in the Scriptures for being concerned with the praises of men, nor even the opinions of men.
So, after reviewing brother Hardeman’s suggestions of the dangers facing the church in his day, has the nature of man changed very much? Do we not face the same identical problems today that they did back then? Are not the same tactics used today to try to prevent the preaching of the plain, distinctive truth of the Scriptures? What is the answer? Preachers must continue to preach the Gospel without fear or favor (II Tim. 4:1-4). Elders must seek out men who are sound and who will assist in feeding the flock (Acts 20:28) and will hold back nothing that is profitable (Acts 20:20); and all should encourage and hold high the hands of God’s herald who faithfully delivers ONLY the message assigned by the King! (Rom. 10:15).
Before we leave this subject, let me also call your attention to one other statement of our Lord on this subject in His Sermon on the Mount. “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Is there ANY reward gained from praises of men? Yes, but only from men, and Jesus states there will be “no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”  Which will you choose?

Paul M. Wilmoth