Words. They fly around us all day long, every day. They have many uses: general communication, sharing information, learning, expressing oneself… There are two types of words, though, that can cause us great delight, or be a great danger. That is what we’re going to sit on for a few minutes here.
People will speak praise to you (me). People will speak venom to you (me). It’s gonna happen. You may look at those statements and see one as good and the other as bad. And at first glance, that appears to be the case. However, when we look deeper, there are actually good and bad aspects to both of those. Praise and Venom.
Delights: When someone speaks praise to us, there are obviously some good things there. It can be an encouragement. God uses the body of Christ for that purpose many times, and often at just the right time. With so much negativity/criticism in the world, having nice things said to/about you can be a refreshing respite. We all need to do this more often.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thes. 5:11
Danger: There are some dangers with ‘praise’. After receiving some praise (especially continuous praise) we (humans) have a tendency to lose focus, and begin to “love praise from men more than praise from God” like the Pharisees did in John 12:43. We also have a tremendous tendency towards pride – thinking more of ourselves than we ought to think (Rom. 12:3). That’s why the subject of pride and humility is in the Bible 100s of times. God knows us. We can combat that by giving glory to God anytime we receive any sort of praise. The glory is His anyways and that helps us to keep our focus on HIM and not how awesome we are :).
Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory. Psalm 115:1
Dangers: Venom is NEVER fun. It may come in the form of criticism (even the constructive type) or outright bashing. We have all experienced it. The problem with venom is that we hear it, over and over again. We start to believe it or receive it. We may even beat ourselves up over it. At that point, there is nothing productive about it. James wasn’t lying when he said, “The tongue is a fire” (James 3:6) and can cause great damage. After receiving some venom, inundate yourself with the TRUTH of God’s word. His word is LIFE. Begin to hear HIM over and over again, believe and receive HIM and HIS WORDS.
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. John 6:63
Delights: Believe it or not, there can be some good stuff in the venom. (Disclaimer: Sometimes there’s not. Just know that. Sometimes it is meant 100% for evil. Pray for God to show you the difference.) Sometimes when we receive venom it causes us to look inward and see if there’s any truth hidden in there, something we may need to change or an area we need to grow in. God can take what was intended for evil and make it good (Gen. 50:19). He’s known for being GOOD like that. Phil. 1:6 says that, “He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion” and God may just be using this in your life as part of your ‘completing’.
Praise, venom, dangers and delights. Use caution when receiving any of it, but also remember God can use them in our lives as we submit to Him and believe HIM and His word above all.