Psalm 50:23 He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,
and he prepares the way,
so that I may show him the salvation of God.
40 years ago I learned this verse in the King James translation set to music: “Who so offereth praise glorifieth me; and to him who ordereth his conversation aright, I will show the salvation of God.” We no longer give “conversation” the meaning of “lifestyle,” or “way of living,” and for that reason it is misleading to most people today. Also, praise and thanks are closely related, but they aren’t identical. The Japanese translation here agrees that this verse is talking about sacrificing thank offerings, rather than just singing a few songs. However, it’s good to consider what it means to sacrifice thank offerings. Paul famously and repeatedly tells us to give thanks for everything. (Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 3:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:18) That is enormously important. When we lose sight of how blessed we are, the devil very easily can, and does, steal our peace and joy. Sometimes giving thanks really is a sacrifice, when we are confronted with devastating circumstances. However, the rewards are unmatched by anything else. When we focus on God and His grace toward us, He indeed shows us His salvation and floods us with His peace and joy. In Hebrews 13:15 it famously says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His Name.” Psalm 50 says in very clear terms that God doesn’t need anything material that we could possibly give Him. For one thing, He created it all in the first place! However, He desires our hearts, our love, our fellowship, and that happens only when we give Him the thanks and praise He deserves.
Just yesterday I was talking with someone who has lost sight of being thankful, and they are really pathetic. It’s not that their circumstances are really so terrible (though they aren’t easy) but that they are so focused on the stresses of their life that they can’t see God in any of it, even though He is in the process of blessing them greatly. That’s what happens when we listen to the devil! I can’t say I’ve never fallen into that trap myself, but as a pastor I certainly want to help people out of it. Simply reasoning with such a person is rarely effective, so I’ve got to pray for God to give them a revelation of what they have been doing, so that they may repent and turn from it. We seldom think about needing to repent of being ungrateful, but it is indeed a sin, because it denies God His due. The consequences are worse for us than for God, because He doesn’t actually need our thanks, whereas an ungrateful heart is really pathetic. I am not to put people down, or denigrate real suffering, but I am to keep myself available to God for pointing people to Him, so that we may all escape the traps of the devil and walk in the abundant peace and joy God intends for us.
Father, sometimes I am really tempted to say, “Get a life!” However, that rarely accomplishes what is needed. Help me express Your truth in Your love by Your Spirit so that it may penetrate to where it is needed, setting people free indeed, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!