The Pleasure of Praising Others

Great persons commend great things. The greatest individuals commend the greatest things. They search for that which is most commendable and then set out to magnify it with speech, enjoy it with praise and invite others to join them in glad admiration by calling attention to its superior qualities.

Why were we made? Answer: We were created to commend. It’s why we have tongues and lips. We are a speaking species, and speech is for the purpose of lauding the laud-worthy.

When a person is struck with awe and appreciation, what does he do? He affirms. Affirmation is what awe and appreciation arouse. We were made for this. We were made to be awed and made to spew appreciation for what awes us most.

Awesomeness either terrifies us or pleases us. If it’s terrible, we shrink back and cry out. And if it’s wonderful, we perk up and overflow with approval. Either way, we say something. We might shriek, or we might rave. We can’t help it.

Most Awesome

Among everything that might be considered awesome, God is most awesome. He is so far superior in awesomeness that he makes the use of the word awesome applied to anything else seem out of place.

The more we marvel at the marvelous, the better we get at it. And the more we praise something to others, the more we enjoy that marvelous thing.

We increase our pleasure in that which is most pleasurable by doing three things:

1. Sharpening our powers of observation. Seeing clearly. Lifting our eyes from the mundane to the glorious, being on the lookout for the commendable. So I pray this way: “God, help me see, really see—be amazed at the amazing.” That includes his character, which is on display all around us.

2. Honing our skill at describing it and reflecting it. In informal speech, in formal speeches, in poetic effort, in song lyrics accompanied with music befitting the moment and the momentous. Let our lips be erupting Vesuviuses of heart explosions, because we have beheld the momentous, the beautiful, the profound.

3. Inviting others to see it and enjoy it with us. This is widely understood by worshippers of everything from sports to spirits: One’s own pleasure is exponentially enlarged by finding others—recruiting others—to see it and relish it, too. “Amens” have an augmenting effect on our pleasure. Nobody carols in solitude. When there is good news of great joy, we want others to sing along.

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Sam Crabtree
Sam Crabtree is a pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church and the author of Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God.