The Thing About Compliments


 The Best compliment of all is “You’re… Godly.”

This compliment must reign in a modern Church which seems to be Hell bent on not only having every good thing The Lord Jesus Christ offers, but every rotten thing the World offers as well. This compliment stops all others in their funky tracks.

Romans 1:8-15

8. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

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For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you

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always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.

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For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you–

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that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

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I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.

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I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

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So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

 

Prayer:  Father this text is our prayer, that we might be encouraged by the good news of the Gospel taught to us in various ways, by various members of the Body of Christ. May we be encouraged by the good news of Christ Crucified for Sinners of whom we are chief. May we surrender our gifts to your sovereign hand for the encouragement of the brethren. May we feel that we too are under obligation to the lost, both the wise and foolish. May we ever find our shelter in the shadow of your wings, and go onward and upward with you.

 

Amen.

 

 

Romans 1:8

 

8. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

Martin Luther writes, “… the Christian way of praising God is not simply to praise men, but to praise, primarily and above all, God in them and to ascribe to Him all glory.”

 “Christian love manifests itself in this that it rejoices in every good thing it sees in others…”

 

Christians encourage other Christians by praising God rather than man. This might seem rather bizarre, but it makes sense if you think about it. We Christians believe that nothing good exists in and of ourselves, therefore anything good, or right, or noble, or what have you that we happen to be doing must come from God. This kind of attitude is essential if we are to slay the dragon named “pride” whom is always looking for compliments, accolades, and self aggrandizement to add to his treasure horde.

 

We encourage people, by praising God’s work in their lives.

 

Philippians 4:8

        

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

 

These are the things Christ is building in our souls. He bought the right to do so upon the Cross, when He traded His solitary, potent, and utterly holy life in exchange for myriads of sinful lives. On that day God transferred a great host from the dominion of darkness to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.

 

Compliments.

 

I think we compliment people for weird things. We compliment men for being tall. As if as little boys they concentrated and worked hard to be tall, but the other little boys were lazy and ended up short.

 

We compliment women on bone structure. As if they willed to have high cheek bones.

 

We compliment girls on things like looks and wonder why they grow up wanting plastic surgery for graduation.

 

When a man courts a woman he compliments her beauty, because he hopes that if she feels good around him, she’ll stick around. That isn’t all bad, by the way, and it kinda makes sense, if you think about it. One should feel safe with their spouse.

 

When people marry, some spend a great deal of time encouraging their spouses to eat rabbit food. They try to convince each other that they like sit-ups and gym memberships.  And, what does all that work really get you in the end? A spouse that is a bit thinner, who might (or might not) live a bit longer?

 

I’m not so sure that it is the goal of Christianity to live a long life down here on Earth. I think we have a better city waiting for us.

 

When we compliment denominations we say things like, “Those _______ sure have great architecture.”

 

Godliness lets us soar to heights above the loftiest arches.

 

 

It seems as though what we compliment- and why we compliment it- has been adversely affected by the Fall and by the World.

 

 

1 Timothy 4:7-8

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Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;

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for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

 

It is an odd thing, really, to spend so much time encouraging all that is fading away while we neglect that which is everlasting.

 

When Paul compliments the Church of Rome for being faithful he is encouraging the Church to go deeper into the everlasting beauty and strength of Christ. Godliness does not have the pitfall of vanity and pride the way these other compliments do. Paul isn’t flattering the Church, He is highlighting whatever is noble in her.

Paul is highlighting everywhere He sees Christ shining in them.

 

If we want happy marriages and friendships we must point out Christ shining in them, and encourage it.

That which we compliment is that which we treasure.

If we’re honest (and I never assume we are), we gush over people whom make us laugh,

Or whose singing voices are pleasant to our ears,

Or whose bodies are easy on our eyes,

But we seldom compliment Godliness because we don’t value it, nor do we see it as beneficial to us.

Sanctification gets a bad rap nowadays because some have used it to weigh down the weary and broken. Some have confused sanctification with justification. Obviously such fog is like chewing one’s foot to escape a bear trap only bleed out.

Yet, and this is an important yet: It is my firm belief that the sin of mankind not only is destructive to oneself but rises up and joins all the sin in the world until it reaches the wicked crescendo of this fallen world.

Godliness works in a similar fashion: It rises up to a glorious crescendo that not only benefits individual believers and Churches, but sweeps up others with the redeeming power of the Gospel.

It seems to me that there are plenty of men milling around willing to compliment a beautiful woman when they see one.

They have eye balls.

But who will labor in the furnace of service to the Cross of Christ where Godliness is tried, tested, revealed and built? Who will adore and encourage the work of Christ in another?

 

Paul Encourages Through Prayer

 

 Romans 1:9-10

 

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For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you

10

always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.

 

 

Paul prays for people in order to encourage them. What is more encouraging than somebody telling you, “I’m praying for you” especially if they really are praying for you. Unless, of course, they say the infamous phrase in such a way as to make you think they think you’re royally messed up, but even then, I’d be okay with it, because I am royally messed up.

 

I take all the prayers I can get, even the judgmental ones.

 

Paul Encourages Through Preaching

 

Romans 1:11-15

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For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you–

12

that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

13

I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.

14

I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

15

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

 

Paul was eager to encourage the saints in Rome with his gift of teaching and preaching.

 

In 2nd Timothy 4 Paul, a man called to preach, encourages Timothy, another man called to preach.

 

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I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

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preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

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For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

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and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

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As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 

I like this about Paul. He isn’t so wrapped up in what God has given him that he can’t see what God has given to other people. He isn’t so into His gift that he can’t encourage others to use their gifts for the glory of God.

 

In fact, while we tend to think of Barnabas as the encourager and Paul as the dour old theologian, we see from Paul’s correspondences that he spent a great deal of time discipling men like Titus and Timothy.

 

2nd Timothy 1:5-7

 

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I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

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For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,

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for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

The greatest compliment is, “I see Christ in you!”

Let us compliment the everlasting.

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