18Take care of a tree,
and you will eat its fruit;
look after your master,
and you will be praised.
19You see your face in a mirror
and your thoughts
in the minds of others.
20Death and the grave
are never satisfied,
and neither are humans.
21Gold and silver are tested
in a red-hot furnace,
but we are tested by praise.
22No matter how hard
you beat a fool,
you can't pound out
A major automobile company reached the pinnacle of success, more cars being sold worldwide than any other manufacturer, and then suddenly a catastrophe. What happened? They cheated. Smart, but not wise, people in the company figured out a way for the car to register compliance with government exhaust emission standards when in fact the car was not in compliance.
Do we think we can, on a personal level, disguise who we really are? Human eyes watch and never tire of watching. People are tested and who is wise and who is a fool is ultimately discovered. As water reflects the face we are known in the real world. When people watch you, what do they see? What do they hear?
Do you speak well of your boss? Do you act in a way that guards her reputation? Are you faithful to her by honestly pointing out that certain courses of action may appear to be expedient but will in the long run harm her? Like the wise man Joseph you will be honored if you do these things, for loyalty is a greatly desired.
Another person dishes out flattery and false praise in the hope that co-workers will begin to look to them for leadership, or maybe they are simply hoping to be liked. But even praise is tested. In fact it is a really good test, for genuine praise builds up skill and creates motivation, but false praise can be sensed and the person who consistently gives it loses credibility.
Don’t be a fool. Don’t be the person who never learns their lesson but always comes back for more disgrace. Even though fools are caught trying to harm someone who is over them, they are soon back at it, false praise falling from their lips. And no matter what, these foolish folk simply cannot seem to figure out that their own actions are the reason they don’t get promotions, aren’t picked to lead projects, or why they so often lose their job.
Turn from foolishness to wisdom. Protect those in charge, be honest in praise and let what shows on your outside be an authentic reflection of who you are on the inside.
I confess that my critical spirit quickly finds occasion to express itself. Today strengthen me to be like you, Lord Jesus, in my inner person so that my words will build up and protect, that you will always be honored.