I recently saw a short video about compliments that are not related to physical appearance. Among them were:
1. I admire your confidence.
2. You’re empowering.
3. Your positive energy is infectious.
4. You’re intelligent.
5. You’re a light.
6. You’re so funny.
7. You have a beautiful soul.
8. You inspire me to work hard.
9. You’re so talented.
10. Your passion is contagious.
11. I can always depend on you.
12. I’m happy you exist.
No, they’re not all winners, but I think the folks who put the list together were trying to make a point that it is possible to compliment someone without falling into the usual physical features that we find attractive.
While there is more to people than the outward appearance, physical features are the go-to method of evaluating everything. Our sight tends to be the sense that is first engaged in any inter-personal connection, so of course that will be our default method of complimenting someone. And our sense of sight not only guides our compliments of others, it also regulates how we behave towards.
Think about it.
When you see you’re about to interact with a child you put on a certain persona. When you see a spouse you put on another persona. When you see your boss walking up you have an entirely different persona. Culture itself primes us to behave differently around celebrities than around “mere mortals.” Nobody goes ga-ga when I walk into a room, but when a pop star does—WATCH OUT! The place goes berserk.
But Jesus wasn’t like that. Not at all. In fact, he was even complimented on his ability NOT to be like that:
And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. (Matthew 22:16)
Jesus said what he had to say regardless of the identity of the person standing before him. That’s integrity. Can you imagine a world where we lived with that kind of integrity? Can you imagine a place where we behaved the same way I the presence of the high-and-mighty and the low-and-humble?
I have a hard time imagining it – probably because I also have my own fair share of personas for myriad situations. But I think that should be our goal. Forget what culture says about celebrity and popularity. Forget about human standards of power and importance. Let’s be authentic in every circumstance.
That’s how Jesus did it.