Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Series: Wisdom from the Word-Week 2

Our second question for the Wisdom from the Word series comes from a discussion we had in our ladies bible study recently.  Someone asked:

In what manner should a Christian woman compliment another
woman on her physical appearance?

I thought this was such a great question.  I don't know about you, but I am a VERY observant person! Sometimes to a fault!  I mean, in this already multi-tasking mom head of mine, I am also very aware of little details of everything around me! At church I can carry on a conversation with someone while also being aware of the lady in the wheelchair needing help out of her pew,checking to see if Jeff is getting to talk to the visitors at the back of the church, and if the new mom is trying to wrangle a toddler while strapping the baby in the stroller.  But, for some reason I am unaware that one of my children is scarfing down the donuts as if I never feed him and the twins are doing military maneuvers underneath the pews?!?  All that to say, when I see someone at church or out and about in town I'm all, "Ooh!  I love your new haircut" or "Girl, where did you get those cute earrings {shoes, lipstick, purse, et. al all things girly}." I notice.  And I can't help commenting that I notice.  Sometimes it does occur to me that maybe my introductory remarks are shallow.  But, I don't get out much!  And when I do it is like live Pinterest for me! 

But seriously, let's examine this topic against God's Word.  I sincerely do want everything I do and say to bring glory to God.

So, the ladies and I hashed this out together and sought the scriptures for answers as opposed to what we "think" or our opinions.  Which, you know how that can go...hahaha.

Of course, questions first have to be asked about motives.  What is the heart motive behind the compliment?  
Proverbs 16:2 says, "All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit."

Job 31:4 says, "Does he not see my ways and count my every step?"

And Proverbs 23:15 "My son if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad."

Psalm 26:2 "Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart."

Some of us may be natural encouragers!  We compliment to bring a smile to someone's face or to cheer them up.  That could be a heart motive that has good intentions.  Sometimes we are guilty of complimenting another because we are feeling insecure about ourselves and hope the compliment will ensure a gratuitous compliment back.  That could be a heart motive, but with selfish desires and intentions.  Sometimes we compliment as a conversation starter or as a way to open the door to meet someone new.  

Along with examining our heart motives, we also need to understand the difference between a compliment and flattery.  Many times these two will go hand in hand:  A compliment usually accompanies a pure heart motive, while flattery is often used for selfish gain.
These two words are actually direct opposites!  One is to be courteous and the other one is the practice of not being sincere!  And if you are like me, you can tell the difference between the two when you are on the receiving end!  The trouble comes in that we are not so 20/20 about our heart motives when we are are the ones handing them out!  Our hearts like to deceive us and we don't especially like bringing that to light.


noun \ˈkäm-plə-mənt\
: a remark that says something good about someone or something
: an action that expresses admiration or approval


 noun \ˈfla-tə-rē\
: praise that is not sincere
a :  the act or practice of flattering
(1) :  something that flatters 
(2) :  insincere or excessive praise

So what does the bible say?  Well, on one hand, Psalm 15:23 says, "A man has joy in an apt answer.  And how delightful is a timely word!" And Proverbs 12:25 similarly says, "Anxiety weighs down the heart,but a kind word cheers it up."  A compliment, with a pure heart motive to encourage a brother or sister, and more importantly, to share the gospel with one who has no hope, is a timely word, delightful, and cheery!

On the other hand, the bible warns us very strongly about flattery:

Proverbs 29:5-"A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet."

Proverbs 26:24-28-"Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.  Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.  A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin."

Psalm 12:3 -"May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,"

Pretty strong.  I would say that the words we speak and the motives in our hearts are very important to God!  "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14.

So how shall we, as Christian women, compliment one another?  If we are to be set apart and different from the world, then we should compliment according to what will bring God glory.  From our heart motives to how it will encourage, cheer and delight the receiver.

The world tears down and belittles.  It portrays a beauty that is only outward and unrealistically attainable.  The message from the world's standards is discouraging and defeating.  There is much exaggeration done for personal benefit and notoriety.  There is an emphasis on the outward and little to none on the inward man.  The world is more concerned with being happy instead of being holy.  The world, rightly, desires the approval of men and not God.

As Christians, we are called to encourage one another in the Lord.  We do that by complimenting one another on the things that God deems as good, beautiful and praise worthy. So as we seek to rightly and biblically compliment and encourage one another, keep these truths from God's Word at the forefront of our minds and hearts. 

When is the last time we complimented someone on the beauty of their gentle and quiet spirit?  Oh, jewelry, clothing and braiding hair is not forbidden (yay!), but they should pale in comparison to the adorning of the Spirit in our lives!

1 Peter 3:3-4 " Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."

How about acknowledging God's work in a woman's life and that evidenced by the fear of the Lord? One that radiates joy, peace and contentment?

Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman that fears the Lord, is to be praised."

Believe me I know it is easier to notice the new highlights or the cute bob haircut!  I know because the ladies and I at church have been working on this!  In our conversation you may hear something like this, "Whoa...that is such a cute skirt?  It looks SO good how lovely and modest and Christ honoring your skirt is!"  " I LOVE your new haircut!  I'm so jealous!  I've been dying to get haircut flatters your face and brings out the sparkle in your eyes and shows off your radiance for Jesus!"  All followed by whoops of laughter and hugs which lead to sweet conversation about all the ways He is sanctifying us!

Let us strive to encourage each other in the Lord!  Be quick to tell a sister how you see the Lord working in her life.  Be plentiful in your compliments as you see one another growing in grace, patience, forbearance and love.  Admire one another concerning spiritual gifts and spiritual victories!

Do it out of love for the Father and for each other with pure motives expecting nothing in return:
Acts 20:35 "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in the way (unity), we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said,'It is more blessed to give than to receive '". (explanation mine)

Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear."