Hebrews 13:15-16 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Verse 15 was essentially drilled into me when I was first being introduced to the Charismatic Movement, and the sacrifice of praise is indeed a valuable part of our relationship and interaction with God. However, I heard verse 16 referred to far less often. Both praising God and sharing things with others can involve genuine sacrifice, but that isn’t always recognized. It’s easy to praise God when things are going well for you personally and you are in a group meeting with a good band and a gifted worship leader. It’s much harder to praise God when it feels like the world has collapsed on top of you and you can’t see the way out. In that case it can be a genuine sacrifice indeed, but the rewards are immense. King David’s statement in reference to the threshing floor of Araunah is very appropriate: “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24) It is especially true that effortless, rote words can become no sacrifice at all. That said, it is when we get to material things that we really tend to feel the pinch. That’s why verse 16 is far less popular than verse 15, and it’s exactly what David was talking about. Sharing with others can and usually does feel good, but it means we no longer have what we give away. The amount is not the issue. Jesus made that very clear when he saw a destitute widow give God all she had. (Luke 21:1-4) Giving becomes a burden only when we think of it as a zero-sum game, forgetting that God is the Creator and His resources are literally infinite. When we give God praise and give materially to those around us, as giving to God, He is indeed pleased, and we “store up for ourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:20)
This certainly applies to me. I love music and I love musical praise and worship, but there have been a few times when I have experienced giving a genuine sacrifice of praise, when I didn’t feel emotionally like praising at all. Likewise, I enjoy meeting people’s needs, and a few times that has come at personal sacrifice, though not at all often. I need to so live my life that it is given to God, whether it is convenient or enjoyable to me at the moment or not. The thing is, I have experienced the blessings of giving to God, in worship and materially, so many times that it no longer feels like a sacrifice! I wonder how that works out? I do know that my God is in no way stingy, and His rewards are limitless. I am to remember that it is quite literally impossible to out-give God, and so give to Him what is appropriate, whether it feels easy or not. Pleasing Him has the ultimate ROI (Return On Investment)!
Father, thank You for Your incredible generosity toward me. May I indeed live a life of praise, having open hands toward those around me, so that You may be pleased and be glorified. Thank You. Praise God!