Apples of Gold

Every woman enjoys a compliment. Whether it is regarding her complexion, her cooking, or her character, a word of commendation brings brightness to her eyes. Approval lifts the heart and lightens the load.

Appreciation of a compliment is not exclusively an American enjoyment. Praise is a benison in any culture. Ethiopian women beam when someone exclaims over the beauty of their children. A Japanese proverb says, "One word of praise can warm three winter months."

A man also likes approval. Watch him light up when you say, "Don't you look nice!" or, "What a beautiful car you have!"

The psalms are filled with words of praise to God. In the New Testament, when the Pharisees rebuked Jesus for allowing His followers to shout His praises, Jesus said, "‘I tell you . . . if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out'" (Luke 19:40, NIV). God revels in the tribute of those who love Him.

People, made in God's image, revel in appreciation, too. When we deny people deserved commendation, we stunt their spiritual and emotional growth. Children who are rarely or never praised may grow physically, but their spiritual and emotional maturity may not fully develop. Verbally honoring the achievements of our loved ones helps them become, emotionally and spiritually, the persons God intended them to be.

Each of us will be blessed if we learn the art of giving a sincere compliment.

This may not be easy. Perhaps we did not learn as children to give a good word. The "sacrifice of praise" means praising God when we don't particularly feel like it. We can practice on those in our family, giving them affirmation, whether our spirits are up or down. Applauding family members daily makes it easier to praise God. Honoring God makes it easier to honor our children, mates, and friends. Practice makes perfect.

How do we begin?

Learning to say a sincere "thank you" is a good way to begin. Thank a gentleman for holding the door for you. Thank your muddy son for the bouquet of dandelions he has grubbed from the wet spring grasses. Thank the neighbor lady who offers to watch the kids. 

Where do we begin?

At home. How long has it been since we have thanked our husbands for the bountiful provision they earn for our families? And the children? Of course, they leave finger marks on our freshly washed cabinets, throw wet towels on the floor, and leave dirty clothes trailing from the hamper. They muddy the floor, shout too loudly in the house, and spill food at the table, but they do some things right. We can praise them for the times they hang up the towel, for remembering to take off muddy shoes at the door, and for soft voices. 

A reader board once proclaimed: "Praise loudly; blame softly." When we learn the art of giving sincere credit at home, it will be easier to compliment the bag boy for his "carry out," the hairdresser for an especially nice coif, the neighbor on his beautiful garden, and the store clerk for her courtesy.

To paraphrase Solomon, one of the wisest men in the world, "A [compliment] fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11, KJV).