What Does the Bible Say About Giving Compliments*

Tell me if you’ve ever had an interaction similar to one I had recently:

I saw a friend whose hair I just ADORE! It’s a thick, very curly, and a beautiful shade of auburn.

“I LOVE your hair, ” I gushed to her. She beamed because…who doesn’t like getting compliments.

Then, I quickly added, “I wish my curls looked like that. I hate my hair right now. The curls don’t look good anymore. I can’t find products I like. It’s just frizzy and limp and looks terrible. I’m probably going to cut it off and just be done with it. “

I didn’t notice because I was too wrapped up in my own thoughts, but I imagine the beaming smile that was on her face at the start of our conversation quickly slipped away. At the very least, she walked away from our conversation feeling puzzled. Confused. Uncomfortable. Maybe even hurt.

Have you ever been on the giving or the receiving end of a compliment like that? A compliment that was negated before it could even be appreciated?

Why do we (especially women) give compliments about our friends’ appearances, clothes, jobs, children, etc and then effectively take them back by complaining about our own appearances, clothes, jobs, children…

Or, maybe you’ve given someone a compliment and then worried the compliment offended them?!

Recently, I saw a picture on social media of a friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. From the picture, I could tell that she had lost weight. I grabbed my phone to text her and tell her…but I stopped. “It will hurt her feelings if I say I can tell she lost weight.” I thought to myself as I stood holding my phone. “She’ll think, ‘Geez! Was I that big before?!'”

So I didn’t send the text. But later, when I saw her in person, she was pumped to tell me she’d lost 16 pounds! {Forehead slap} Why oh why didn’t I compliment her when I first thought about it!

Why do we feel the need to qualify or explain compliments?

And why are compliments so hard to accept sometimes?

I wondered if there was any “Christian etiquette on giving and receiving compliments,” so I picked up my Bible to dig around and find out.

(I’ll go ahead and tell you that I didn’t find any information about how to compliment my friend’s gorgeous hair without making myself seem vain or insincere by turning the conversation back onto my own hair).

We don’t always find the answers we want when we pick up our Bibles, but we will find the answers we need.

We will find what is true. What is right. What is godly.

In my search, I looked first for examples of times in scripture when someone gave a compliment to someone else. Here are some of the verses I found:

1 Corinthians 11:2 – “I am so glad that you always keep me in your thoughts, and that you  are following the teachings I passed on to you.” (NLT)

Philippians 2: 19-22 – “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.  For I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.  For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.  But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.” (ESV)

Colossians 2:5 – “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.” (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 – “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love you all have for one another is increasing.  Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” (NIV)

2 Timothy 1: 3-5 – “I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.  Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (NIV)

Romans 1: 8 – “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” (NIV)

Philippians 1: 3-5 – “I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…” (NIV)

(Many of these verses are from letters written by Paul). In these examples, what is he complimenting?

His praise to another person or another group of people is based on faithfulness, work for the kingdom, godliness, fruits of the spirit displayed, etc.

Here are some other verses about encouraging fellow believers:

Hebrews 10:24-25 – “Let us think of ways to motivate one another in love and good deeds.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (NLT)

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (NIV)

Romans 15:2 – “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” (NIV)

Proverbs 31:30 – “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (ESV)

1 Peter 3:34 – “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourself instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious to God.” (NLT)

Ephesians 4:29 – “Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (NLT)

Proverbs 12:25 – “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” (NIV)

What does all this mean? To me, it means that believers should look for opportunities to compliment the spiritual growth we see in others. We should encourage each other in our walk with Christ. We should motivate each other to do good. To be godly.

Giving and receiving compliments is challenging. But, Proverbs 12:25 shows us it’s necessary and good. (“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” NIV)

Offer encouragement and build up each other in Christ.

When I think it about it more, I believe giving and receiving compliments is difficult because of the condition of our hearts.

How is your heart when you give praise or a compliment? What is your motive?

How is your heart when you receive a compliment? Where do you stand with God at the moment?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t compliment people. It isn’t a sin to like someone’s hair, earrings, clothes, make-up, etc. Just check the condition of your heart first. Be sure your motives are pure – you simply saw something you liked and just wanted to tell that person 🙂

But, first and foremost, consider encouragement, motivation, and building each other up in Christ.

*It has been such a long time since I’ve written much of anything – even for myself. This post came about first as a devotion I wrote to share with the ladies I work with (we have devotions every morning before school starts, and twice a year, I am in charge of leading the devotional time). I miss writing and am still trying to dig out of whatever this hole is that I’m in where I’m not doing this thing that I love and was made to do. I would greatly appreciate your prayers.

Still Suffering

I thought when school ended last year and mask mandates in our state of North Carolina began to lift, and when the gyms, movie theaters, restaurants, and other businesses reopened at full capacity, that we were “getting back to normal,” so to speak. In my naivete, I believed the blessed rest of summer would also signal the dying out of the virus. I believed the worst was over. I hoped the worst was over – the worst we would see of this pandemic called Covid-19.

But, I was wrong.

Now, the people I personally know who have tested positive for the virus are sicker than the people I knew who previously had the virus.

Image Credit: Dailyverses.net

People are struggling alone in hospital rooms. Families are struggling at home in the absence of their loved ones.

And it isn’t just Covid that is causing the suffering, but everything seems to be amplified because of the virus. All suffering seems to be more oppressive now.

Many of my friends have been sharing praise and worship music on social media and in group texts to encourage, support, and bring peach and comfort.

Seeing all the music shared and knowing the power of hearing and singing the lyrics of God-centered music reminded me of my friend, Laurie Hogle, and her work at “Singing Christ’s Hope Into Your Suffering.”

I met Lauri in Flourish Writers, a writing group I found through social media, and I have shared her blog posts a time or two here. I’ve even recently collaborated with her on a blog post about interrupting suffering by helping others.

For all those suffering right now, I share Lauri’s words again. They always bring me peace and comfort. I pray they’ll do the same for you. I encourage you to check out her most recent post and subscribe to her email list (at the bottom of her post). Each week, she sends a post along with a playlist of songs curated for their message of praise and worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When Satan Tries to Lie: Part 3

One of Satan’s main tactics against those who follow Christ is distraction. He doesn’t have to tempt you into some “major” sin to be successful in his mission to steal, kill, and destroy. He simply needs to encourage you to take your eyes off God, to distract you from what God wants you to do.

Image Credit: Makingthemostblog.com

In the past few years, I’ve been learning how to catch the enemy at his game. It started a few years ago, when I realized he was trying to use the size of my t-shirt to distract me from worship and fellowship at a women’s retreat. Another time, I came to understand that the enemy was trying to overwhelm me with a to-do list. He wanted me to think I had too much to do and get overwhelmed so I wouldn’t start anything. More recently, I caught myself buying into the lie that I didn’t have time to complete short, simple tasks. Satan was encouraging me to procrastinate on things I needed to get done, to put them off until later.

And just the other day I caught the enemy planting seeds of discouragement and shame so I wouldn’t write this post.

For this week’s post, I planned to write about focusing on others. This topic is an important part of my writing focus; I seem to gravitate toward the idea of focusing on others in my own quiet time with God and to study scripture that encourages this when I read the Bible, so I was writing more and more around that theme.

I started working on this article, as I often do, by free-writing in my notebook about the topic for the week’s post. Suddenly, I remembered something: I don’t focus on others. I wrote in my journal, It’s hilarious that this has become one of the main “cogs” in the wheel of my writing because it isn’t something I do.

My pen kept going: I know I should. I see it in scripture. I just don’t follow through. I don’t live my life that way. I’m not even a social person! Ha! I’d rather not engage in too much conversation with people. I don’t know how to make small talk and get conversations going, so I just don’t – at least not as often as I probably should. I want so badly to be liked and to have friends and to be someone others want to be around, but I’m not. I’ve never been. My life is a testament to being unfriendly.


Thankfully, God opened my eyes to what was going on. I needed to take captive those thoughts because they were all from Satan. He was and is still telling me I can’t write about focusing on others because I don’t focus on others, and I was journaling those thoughts as fast as I could as if they were the gospel truth.

Image Credit: United Faith Church

I shifted my focus back to God. I acknowledged what was going on. That Satan was distracting me by feeding me the now-familiar mantra about me not being friendly and not wanting to engage with people. I began to pull back the curtain, so to speak, and see the mantra for what it was – a distraction. God sat me down to write this week’s article, and Satan immediately set out to derail me.

Once my focus was in the right place, God led me to write this: God made me who I am. He gave me the personality I have. He put me where I am. Obviously, He is going to work through me in spite of myself. I just need to move forward. I just need to act when He says to act. Not worry about my personality. Just follow Him. He’ll show me how to focus on others.

Just because I’m not the most outgoing, introverted person doesn’t mean I can’t focus on others.

I can give of my time, energy, and resources for other people.

I can serve others.

As I was freewriting, I came to understand that I’ve been focusing on the response from others, and that’s the wrong way to approach it. I want a large group of friends who think I’m totally awesome and want to hang out with me all the time. I want to be cheered and celebrated because I’m so great at putting others first and everyone knows it…but that is totally the wrong approach.

My reason for looking to the needs of others shouldn’t be what I stand to gain from it or how popular I’ll be if I do it. The point is God told me to do it. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else in the whole world knows what’s going on. I shouldn’t put others first in order to gain recognition or acclaim. I should put others needs first because the Lord of my life calls me to.

How does Satan try to distract you from what God calls you to do? How do you take captive your thoughts and refocus yourself on God?

How do you focus on others? In what ways do you serve? In what ways to do you offer your time and resources?

I’d love to hear from you.