“How pretty your hair looks,” I commented to an acquaintance of mine.
“Did you get it cut differently?”
“You should wear pink more often, Nancy,” my friend Pat remarked. “It’s a good color for you.”
We all enjoy giving and receiving compliments. They build our self-esteem, encourage us in our efforts, and cheer us when we’re having a disappointing day. Compliments may be based on how we look, what we do, or who we are.
How We Look
If you interviewed thousands of Americans at any given time, a large percentage would say they are trying to diet, quit smoking, or start an exercise program. Adopting healthier eating habits, getting enough rest, and spending more time with their families would be next on the list of self-improvements. Although changing lifelong habits and lifestyles can be grueling work, when people start noticing the changes (“You look wonderful!”), their compliments encourage the person to keep making the effort.
Those who decide to change their appearance may be motivated positively or negatively: to feel better about themselves; to improve their health and fitness level; to present a better appearance for an interview or a job; to improve their marriage; to attract the attention of the opposite sex; to make others jealous; to gain the admiration of others; to surpass someone else’s efforts; or to project a particular attitude, lifestyle, or income level.
What We Do
When you meet someone new, one of the first questions asked is, “So, what do you do?” Our society ranks people’s importance according to the work they do. A doctor or lawyer usually receives more respect and recognition than people who work in the service sector. Many adults decide to return to school so they can learn new skills and get a better job.
When people feel appreciated and valued and receive credit for their work, their job satisfaction increases. Hearing, “Congratulations on getting that sales account,” or, “You did a great job on that project!” can improve morale, provide the impetus for greater achievements, and encourage team effort.
People may be motivated by altruistic or selfish goals. Some people’s goals include making a lot of money, gaining power and control over others, and attaining a higher status so that people will admire them. Others aspire to do their best, to provide for their families, and to grow and learn.
But what we do encompasses much more than just our employment. Many people use their talents and time to invest in their family, church, and community. They volunteer to help others, improve their neighborhood, and raise their children to be responsible citizens–all worthy goals.
Who We Are
Our fast-paced, superficial world focuses on outward appearance and on what we do, rather than on who we are. Yet the Bible teaches that who we are on the inside is what’s really important, and it will eventually show on the outside. Becoming more like Christ requires lifelong effort. Only the Holy Spirit can bring about the deep character changes that He desires in us as we cooperate with Him. Why should we strive to become like Christ? Gratitude toward our Savior produces a desire to please and obey Him. We may also want to set a good example for others and to earn eternal rewards.
When we shift our focus from ourselves and onto Christ (“He must increase, but I must decrease,” John 3:30), our attitudes and desires change. We become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We begin to think of the eternal, rather than the temporal. As we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, we start to see ourselves as He sees us. We become more appreciative of others and more grateful to our Lord. We manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) and demonstrate the qualities of love listed in 1 Corinthians 13. We take the Great Commission seriously and desire to share the good news with those who do not know the Lord. Our obedience is the key that changes who we are.
While we may receive many compliments about how we look and what we do, hearing our Lord call your name and say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant,” will be the greatest compliment you could ever hope to receive.