When I was a young pastor serving in a church staff position I was present during an open church conflict. It was a public meeting filled with rancor and harsh words.
The person in the congregation who seemed to be putting the most wood on the fire was a man who was (and still is) known as a church troublemaker. He was always involved or near when there was trouble in the church. While he was raising his verbal ruckus the pastor interrupted him in an attempt to return the meeting to some semblance of Christian order. The antagonist turned from the man he was arguing with and said, “Preacher you’re a good man, but...” Before he could finish his sentence the pastor firmly responded, “I’m not interested in your opinion of me.” Oddly, the man remained quiet for the rest of the meeting, and the pastor was able to restore order.
After the meeting I asked this aged and experienced pastor about his response, and why it had such an effect on this man. He gave me some sage advice, “A complement, deserved or undeserved, carries the character and reputation of the person giving it. If that person is of bad character then accepting a public complement from him may, even ever so slightly, stain me, and can lend him some of my credibility.” He then said, “A tactful rebuke at an appropriate time insures a respectful distance between us. It also speaks volumes about my estimation of his behavior or character, which is probably why he got quiet. It also shows I am not easily influenced by complements.”
Jesus seemed to have been of the same mind. To have accepted the accolades and declarations of demons would have, in a sense, stained the Savior. It would have also made the demons look better, and narrowed the perceived distance between them. So the Savior firmly rebuked and silenced these evil creatures. The evidence of Jesus’ character and attributes was more visible in His authoritative command of the demons than anything they had to say.
We should learn from this too. If we are known as people of bad character then our praises of the Savior may stain Him in the eyes of the ones who really know us. Perhaps He may then decide to distance Himself…