June 11

John 5:41-42, 44 41"I do not accept praise from men, 42but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.

44How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?

The applause of men, the approval of an audience, is a seductive and fickle illusion. Jesus refused to accept it. Surely He had heard it dozens of times, but He refused to let it enter His heart. How hungry man can be for man's approval! The old nature craves it. Actors and musicians become so addicted to it that they go into depression and drug abuse when their hour of fame ends.

Jesus often painted things in black and white. He said, "You can't love God and money." It seems here that He is saying, "You can't live for the praise of men and the praise of God. You must choose one or the other." There are rare times when the praise of man coincides with the praise of God, but the reason for that praise is often different. If the love of God were in the hearts of those who gave the praise, their praise may echo God. In the passage above, Jesus knew that was not the case.

Jesus then told them that if they accepted praise from one another, but made no effort to obtain the praise that comes from God only, they could not believe. It was not possible then or now. The praise that comes from God alone is for the secret acts that no one else sees. Those acts are an unseen demonstration of what is really in the heart. The anonymous giver, the secret fast, the time alone in prayer, the meal with the homeless man, no one but God sees or hears about. Why would someone do such things? They seek the praise that comes from God alone. Their genuine faith has expressed itself in love.

This is a test of the authenticity of your faith. Do you seek the praise that comes from God alone, or do make sure that others find out about your "devotion"? Authentic faith sees the praise of man as worthless and lives for the praise that comes from God alone.

Remember: This instruction is not about works one can do to earn merit, but about the life of faith expressing love for the Father.