On receiving praise

How can he be puffed up with vain words, whose heart is truly subject to God? Not all the world can lift him up, whom the truth hath subjected unto itself; neither shall he, who hath firmly settled his whole hope in God, be moved with the tongues of any who praise him.

– Tomas A’ Kemis, The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 14

Can you think of a celebrity who isn’t puffed up (at least to some degree) by the attention they receive? There are some I imagine. If what man wants is money, sex and power (and he does), then receiving praise falls under the fame category, which is a subset of power. Once again, the meek inherit the earth and the praise of God while the man who desires it the much is the most easily deceived by it. He can be more easily moved by the words of others. He has subjected himself to other men.

I think you can take this the wrong way though. Some of us have trouble receiving praise. We write off any compliment we receive. I think this is often a symptom of the dreaded “nice-guy syndrome”. Unfortunately, this is NOT the same as the man who is subject to God. We may not be so subject to the words of other men, but we have replaced it with being subject to our own selves. This can harden us against correction and (more commonly I think) rob us of the joy of encouragement.

Realizing this condition exists doesn’t seem to make it feel any easier!