Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:42-43)
Seeking The Praise Of God
There are two kinds of praise: the honor given by men and the acceptance of the Creator. The praise of men is a strong temptation driving men to spend their lives to be remembered in history in one form or another. Ambitious men and women craft everything in their lives to be known throughout the world for economic, scientific, political, or athletic accomplishments. Monuments are raised in their honor, cities named after them, discoveries attributed to their genius, and endless volumes dedicated to their life work. The irony of men who seek fame and fortune for the praise of men is how short the memory of history defines their lives.
One of the great men of the nineteenth century was Henry Bradley Plant (1819-1899) but few people recognize his accomplishments. Along with Henry Flagler, he was a businessman and entrepreneur who changed the face of Florida, considered to be giants of their day. Their fame or “praise of men” was short-lived, with only remnants of their memories on the minds of people today. Alexander Fleming discovered one of the most important breakthroughs in medical science and few know what he did. Does anyone remember who won the 1956 World Series? The praise of men is only a brief footnote in the history of humanity.
Among the rulers of the Jewish Council, some men believed that Jesus was the Son of God. Because of their fear of the Pharisees, they did not confess the Lord. Anyone who acknowledged the legitimacy of the man from Nazareth would be expelled from the synagogue. The praise of men was more important to them than the praise of God. Their hearts were seeking worldly honor, fame, fortune, and power. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. If they never changed their hearts, they died loving the praise of men. No doubt, the funeral procession would have been an elaborate declaration of who they were and how important they were in the synagogue. Two thousand years later, does anyone know their names or what they accomplished?
Jesus had many followers who were not tempted by the praise of men. They sought the praise of God. In most cases, what men knew about those who sought after the praise of God was very little. The early Christians were honest men and women who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ with humility and devotion. History would not inscribe their names on plaques, raise monuments in their honor, or name cities after them. Instead, the Holy Spirit would remember a few of them so the world could read about them thousands of years later. Men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Peter, James and John, Paul, Barnabas, Timothy and Epaphroditus. Women like Sarah, Abigail, Hannah, Ruth, Rahab, Mary, Martha, Phoebe, and Dorcas are still talked about today. Their lives were in simple faith seeking the praise of God. They died with little recognition of the glory of men.
The praise of men and the praise of God have one distinct difference: the praise of men always fades away and the praise of God never diminishes. Death begins to erode the fame, removes the riches, and slowly takes away the remnants of a life wasted seeking the praise of men. The praise of God gives hope to the spirit in life and the promise of eternal life in death. Seeking the praise of men never brings peace in death, only fear. When the soul is facing eternity and the presence of the Almighty God, the praise of men has no power. No man on his death bed wishes for more money and more fame. All he can see is a vast chasm of blackness engulfing his life as the cold tentacles of death begins to surround him. He knows too late the value of the praise of men. Only the child of God feels warmth as the sleep of death covers his soul with tender caresses of joy as the angels prepare to transport the soul to the bosom of Abraham. The praise of God is eternal. It never ends.