Faint Praise

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In most marriages, praise, when it is offered at all, is often faint or "backhanded" at best. We need praise that is clear, strong, and accurate so we know beyond a doubt that we are being praised.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:28

Isn't it a great feeling to be praised for something you've done? There is hardly anything like it. We all love to get verbal "pats on the back" when we do something well. It's part of how we are made.

Sadly, most marriages are what we call "praise deficient?' In most marriages, praise, when it is offered at all, is often faint or "backhanded" at best. We're talking about "compliments" such as, “That dress doesn't look all that bad.”

We all need praise to keep going in life. We need someone to notice our effort and talents and give us verbal "strokes." We need praise that is clear, strong, and accurate so we know beyond a doubt that we are being praised.

The accuracy of our praise relates to the genuineness of our words. True praise is not flattery—words of "praise" spoken to another person for our own benefit. Genuine praise is unselfish—an expression of our grati­tude for the benefit of another.

One important element in true praise that helps communicate its genuineness is honestly and genuinely "knowing" the person. If I (David) were to praise Teresa for her flexibility, she would either laugh or wonder if I had lost my mind. Flexibility is definitely not one of Teresa's personal­ity traits, and it would not be genuine if I were to praise her for it. On the other hand, she would be blessed if I were to express my gratitude for her forgiving heart, commitment to truthfulness, and diligence in fulfilling her responsibilities. These words of praise would affirm to her that I really do "know" her.

Praise your spouse for the good things. Don't let your praise be faint. Make it loud and clear and honest.

What honest words of praise can you speak to your spouse today?

God, help me offer praise to my spouse regularly, clearly, and honestly.

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