Complements make me feel uncomfortable. This is understandable if they are Insincere, butter-up remarks, but even genuine, well-intentioned words bother me too. Sometimes they stroke my vanity and desire to bathe in the flattery, yet I don’t like it. A swelled head is often dangerous and a warning of a fall soon to come.
Once I paid a compliment to a Christian friend and she quoted: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
I liked that, yet the words feel awkward to my mouth. This is not the way I talk. A better example was the time someone complemented my rock garden and I lifted my hands in a gesture of glory to God. The other person grinned and nodded. That gesture felt right and was well received, yet is not always possible — for instance in a telephone conversation. Besides, I want to use Scripture. Truth from God has a way of ringing its own bell.
Today I read this passage and God gives me an answer to those who give me credit when it should go to God . . .
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–10)
By the grace of God, I am what I am. Right! Whatever I do well, it is not because of any special skill or practice that I’ve developed; it is the grace of God. I could have been born to a family with less love, married to a man who abuses me, living in a situation of great poverty. I could have great health problems, physical deformities, a low IQ and no common sense at all, but by the grace of God, my life is filled with abundance and blessed.
The best of all is that I am forgiven. My sin is washed away, and I am declared righteous in Christ. I once was lost and far from God, but grace made me His child. I shudder thinking about what might have happened had God not been gracious to me. God reminds me of what Paul wrote to those who had awful sin in their lives. He gave a list of those sins, then said to them:
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
What good news! What marvelous news! Once they lived sin-filled lives, but Jesus saved them! And I know that even if my situation in life was the opposite of all that it is, that is, even if I were less blessed with abundance and good things, I would still have Jesus. I would still be able to say — by the grace of God I am what I am. I am a person of joy, saved and in love with Jesus Christ. I have all I need — His grace has made it so.
Jesus, the next time someone says ‘good for you’ about anything, remind me to reply in such a way that You are glorified, for You are worthy to receive glory. I know that in some cases a simple ‘thank you’ is appropriate, but I’d rather acknowledge that grace is the only reason for any good thing in my life, the only reason I am a saved and blessed person. I am what I am because of Your grace, because of You!