...for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
Praise from men. We are absolutely addicted to it. And like good junkies, we want our friends to be addicts too. When we find someone who in earnest doesn't care what the elite think of him, well...just one thing to do: rally the mobs and crucify him.
Praise from men. Its tentacles are so deeply wrapped around our souls I don't think that any of us can see how insidiously our motivations for doing the right things are corrupted by our heart's addiction to the praise of men. Why do we work so hard to prepare a great sermon? Why do we help the little old lady? Why do we lead worship? Why do we give to the poor? Why do we avoid external sin? Why do I write these blogs? I'm afraid of the answers to those questions...but I know that for myself, too many times the praise of men, at least in part, fuels my actions.
But hang on a second. There's something else here. John's words hold hidden treasure. These men loved the praise of men more than praise from God.
Praise from God? Is that possible? Can we even dream that the God who created the universe might find occasion to be pleased with us? Can we go there? What if we dared?
In daring, I find hope for my wandering heart and a breathtaking source of strength for obedience.
It seems that John would be telling us not only that praise from God is possible, but that we should love it. Pursue it. Crave it. Now here is something that can fuel a passion to follow Jesus even at great personal cost. The thought that by submitting to the Spirit of God, following where He leads, I can hear Him say well done! ... this is nothing short of life-changing.
And, it might even be the way out of the praise of men addiction.