Paul pauses midway in his letter to the Corinthians to offer a word of praise. What Paul praises is worthy of note. That Paul takes an opportunity to praise, when there was ample opportunity for criticism, is perhaps even more worthy of note.
He is happy to see that the Corinthians have been clearly showing their love for him by keeping him in remembrance. He doesn’t expand on that here. Perhaps they had sent him financial backing, maybe it was prayers, quite possibly it was people sent to aid and support him. Certainly, the apostle had found this to be very encouraging in his ministry.
But, if anything, Paul is even more happy about the Corinthians’ love for his teaching. He uses the Greek word paradosis to indicate the lessons he had shared with them. Literally, this word means “the things given over” to the Corinthians. Our NIV translation calls it “traditions.” The New Living Translation interprets it as “teachings.” The Corinthians had held on to these traditions and teachings and kept them alive in their midst.
The interesting thing here is that as you read the entire book of Corinthians, you come to realize that they had not done either of these perfectly. Far from it. Yet, Paul still finds a way to praise them, compliment them, and encourage them.
Do you have people in your life that might need you to really pay attention for fleeting opportunities to praise? It’s very easy to critique. It’s not difficult in the least to spy things in the lives of others to condemn. A sharp tongue, a look of disdain, a judgmental shrug — it doesn’t take much to indicate our displeasure with the efforts of those around us.
But Paul always found a way — even if he had to work at it a little — to look for an opportunity to praise. Ever wonder what would happen if we followed suit and made it our mission in life to seek out opportunities to praise and encourage others?
“I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2, NIV).
Lord Jesus, forgive me for all the times I have only sought out opportunities to criticize and condemn. Open my eyes to see the opportunities to praise others that exist all around me. Help me to be an encourager to my neighbor, as you Jesus, constantly are to me.
Our Bible reading for Monday, August 17, is 2 Chronicles 7:11 – 9:31, 1 Corinthians 11:2-34 and Psalm 98:1-9.
Header image based on "Power of Touch" by Celestine Chua, CC By 2.0