What does it mean to be praised by God?
John 5:31-47. Testifying for Jesus
Using the lens of the Lasallian reflection framework or the general empirical method, the act of praising should come after a positive insight and value judgement towards another. A shallow praise is empty flattery or sugarcoating; a more attractive form of BS… but it’s still BS nonetheless. In Filipino, we are more familiar with “pambobola”.
Thus, to be praised by God means for Higher Power to arrive at a positive judgement of how we conduct ourselves. In other words, for the Father who senses and understands everything about us, it is an evaluation of how well we are journeying towards authentic and integral flourishing.
The challenge is: how do we know that God is praising us?
My answer is: we cannot fully know or apprehend it. And it’s better to humble ourselves and purify our intentions, i.e., do good for the sake of good and do it consistently, regardless if we feel that we are rewarded or not.
The story of Job is unsettling, in a sense that we can never fully understand the supernatural. It can seem like pleasure and pain can be arbitrary bestowed or taken from us. Our pleasure and pain are not necessarily rewards and punishment all the time. We may think: why do good when the rewards are uncertain? I’m inclined to think that we are indeed naturally predisposed towards being and knowing what is good, and the reward is more intrinsic — being authentic and consistent with who we are meant to be.
The most deserving leader is someone who is humble; yet the moment a person craves to be a leader, does he cease his humility? The best artisan or athlete is someone who strives to improve his craft for its own sake. The moment he is enamored more by the celebrity lifestyle rather than the craft he is developing, does he lend himself to temptation and distractions?
It’s a tricky paradox and a great exercise of authenticity and humility. The moment we think we deserve God’s praise may be the precise moment we become undeserving of His praise. Therefore, the highest kind of praise we can receive in this world would be an unprompted and unsought commendation from those around us. Yet, we should not let that praise get into our heads, because the moment we do, we become undeserving.
To end, do we want to be praised by God? Of course! But practically speaking, I think it’s a distraction to seek His praise as a reward. The best way to earn His praise may be to do good for its own sake — not for rewards and not for salvation.
We do good because we are good.
[DAILY GOSPEL INSIGHTS AND REFLECTION FOR MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION 90: MARCH 31, 2022]