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).