God praises people. Far-from-perfect people. Sinful people. Amazing isn’t it? There may be bad things in their past, their present or their future, and yet God praises them and inspired the biblical authors to record that praise.

  • Noah: “You are righteous before me in this generation.”
  • Job: “There is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
  • Roman Centurion: “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
  • Nathaniel: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
  • Canaanite woman: “O woman, great is your faith!”

Part of being perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, is imitating Him in praising and affirming others, especially when they share good news with us. The popular writers in the Positive Psychology movement have identified four different kinds of response to someone who shares good news with us:

  • Active Constructive: We feel the joy of the person sharing the news and respond enthusiastically by asking for more details and by helping them savor the news. Example: “That’s wonderful news. I’m so happy for you! Tell me more about it”
  • Passive Constructive: The response is supportive but quiet and understated rather than excited and interested: Example: “That’s nice dear.”
  • Active Destructive: Here the responder demeans the person or quashes the news by making critical, negative, or pessimistic remarks about the information that was shared.” Example: “That’s never going to work out. It’ll probably add a lot of stress in your life.”
  • Passive Destructive: Ignores the news and fails to acknowledge the feelings of the person. Example: “So anyway…Guess what happened to me at work today.”

God is an active constructive responder! And so should we be. And not only because it helps us imitate and represent God to others, but because it will do us good too.

Research shows that people who rate their partners as active and constructive responders feel more intimacy and trust, are more satisfied with the relationship, report fewer conflicts, and engage in more fun and relaxing activities together This is because active constructive responding makes people feel validated, understood, and cared for (Jessica Colman, Optimal Functioning)

So next time you’re tempted to “Meh” someone, or worse, remember: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

  • Anthony S.

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your ministry. I was wondering about this. I have been Passive Destructive to a certain friend of mine whenever it seems to come off as “bragging”. This particular person has confessed to me that they struggle with people-pleasing a lot and I noticed how much he wants praise. He wants it a lot of the time. I understand sharing something that is great that God did through you and directing the praise to Him but this friend doesn’t seem to get it. I will say things like “God is amazing” or “Praise God” but he doesn’t get that I’m trying to push the glory away from him and to the right source, just like I would want my spouse or friends to do for me if they noticed I was saying things out of pride showing how great I am. My friend even told me that he feels like I don’t care about things that happen to him because I sometimes just don’t respond to the text message. I know this is probably wrong but this post spoke to me a lot. I get that Jesus was an “Active Constructive” but was this all the time? Where is the balance? These examples with Noah, Job, and others knew their acts of greatness came from God and God alone. So I guess I am asking where is the balance and could you give me any wisdom with my friend? Thank you for this post.


  • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

    Great point, Anthony. We definitely don’t want to encourage boasters in their sin. So you’re right, active constructive would not be the right response then. I think your idea of deflecting glory to God is right. However, you probably need to talk to him and explain your concerns and motives.

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