Steve came into the kitchen carrying a lovely rose, its dewy petals just beginning to open. Delicate baby’s breath surrounded the bloom; emerald-green tissue and a red satin bow created a fitting frame.
He passed the rose to me with love in his eyes and a sweet smile on his face.
I took the rose and threw it on the floor.
What?! you say. How could you do such a thing?
The truth is, I didn’t. I made that up. Not the part about Steve bringing me roses. He has surprised me with flowers numerous times over the years. I made up the part about taking a rose from him and throwing it on the floor.
That would be terribly rude, wouldn’t it. But the scenario described above does provide an allegory for the way we sometimes accept verbal gifts–occasions when we’ve treated kind words as trash:
“Who, me? Oh, no. Not really. So-and-So is much better at __________ than I am.”
“You liked what I said? You must not have been listening very carefully!”
“I can’t believe you actually liked it. I thought it was terrible.”
Compliments are like roses, offered in an effort to bring a smile, provide good cheer, express appreciation and encouragement. When we discount them, it’s as if we’re throwing these verbal gifts on the floor. The compliment-giver feels put down, awkward, and lacking in good taste.
You may be thinking: Wait a minute. As Christians, aren’t we supposed to be humble? Accepting compliments seems so prideful.
Not if you view positive remarks as declarations of God’s glory, as it’s reflected through you. Not when you consider that denying sincere, truthful compliments detracts from God’s glory.
So how can Christians accept compliments with grace? Here are several possibilities:
- Simply say “thank you” and give the glory–the credit–to God. He is the one who gave you the ability to accomplish the task for which you are being praised. Pass the compliment on to God.
- Consider the compliment as encouragement. God is at work in you and he’s using you to minister to others. Thank the person for their kind words, and praise God for the opportunity to be used for his purpose, in ways that bless others.
- God often uses his people as agents for his encouragement. It’s possible those kind words are coming straight from God’s heart to yours. Take joy in the blessing.
- A gracious “thank-you-so-much-for-your-kind-words” will prompt the compliment-giver to continue offering encouragement to others. Wise King Solomon compared inspiring/supportive words to gold (Proverbs 25:11). That’s how valuable they are.
- If others were involved in your achievement, be sure to give them credit. Sharing the glory will increase the pleasure of the compliment.
- Later, when the kind words come to mind again, whisper a prayer. For example:
“Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing my effort and touching that woman’s heart. What an honor to be used by you to minister to her.”
Turn compliments into praise and they won’t turn into pride.