Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13, verses 15-16.
If you can’t do anything else, you can always do these things: say praise and do good. In doing good and in praising, we share God with others. In praise and good works, we act out the life of Jesus on behalf of people who may not know Him but need Him never the less. Giving praise to God leads to giving thanks to Him, and it leads to wanting to live out ways that show your thanks. If you want to sum up the Christian walk through life, these two verses are basically it. Praise God and live out your faith. Do it because it pleases God.
Have you considered how you offer your praise? How do your lips openly profess His name?
Do you realize that it’s not just your spoken word that professes His name, that gives Him praise, that proclaims your faith in Him? It’s the words from your mouth, your blog, your attire, your attitude towards strangers, your actions, your demeanor. If you are having trouble measuring up to a Godly standard, join the club. I have trouble doing that, and I’ve been a follower of Jesus for nearly all my life yet ‘walking the walk’ is sometimes tough. These days, I have zero problem saying I believe in Jesus, but I still struggle with how to put that faith into common conversation without seeming preachy or condescending. Those qualities are the opposite of the ones God wants me to live out, especially when talking about Him. And if the conversation is with friends, especially ones who have known me in the past, then I find the task even more difficult. I’m a hypocrite. Indeed, I wonder how much dishonor I’ve brought on my Lord instead of praise.
In church this weekend, Pastor Mark talked about how only God can change hearts. Hollywood can’t do it. Politicians can’t do it. Your wife and kids can’t even do it. If your heart is hard, cold, hurting, or indifferent, only God can work in it to change it. Other people can chip away at the exterior, but only by letting God into your heart can it be truly changed. His Spirit acts like peroxide on a wound. When His Spirit begins that work in you, you simply can’t hold it in. You feel moved to express it, to give praise, to give thanks, to share it. Only when God works in you can you see the error of dishonor and want to change how you live to avoid continuing on a dishonorable path.
When that happens, praise God from whom all blessings flow. You’ll feel the push to do just that.
Yet it’s true that there will still be setbacks. There may still be times of back-sliding, of slipping up. When those happen, you might just feel the unfamiliar (and unwelcome) feeling of guilt, of shame. In those times, it helps to remember that even those emotions are gifts from Him to serve as barometers, white lines to keep us in the safe lane. When that happens, even guilt and shame become feelings of praise, of being grateful for a God who would love us even our lowest moments and want to meet us where we are.
So if you can’t do anything else, if all abilities leave you or if you’re at the end of your rope and you simply don’t know what to say, try giving thanks and praise. When you do, you make God smile.
For further reading: 1 Peter 2:5, Isaiah 57:19, Hosea 14:2, Romans 12:13, Philippians 4:18
Lord, I praise You and thank You for all the ways you bless me today.