The Sacrifice of Praise; February 18, 2023

Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.

This is one of the first verses I became aware of when I was introduced to the Charismatic Movement. Choruses like We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise still echo in my heart and mind, and that was just over 50 years ago. The principle of praising God has never vanished entirely from the Church, but it has certainly had its ebbs and flows. I have seen skits that made fun of it, saying that God is egotistical to require praise of His subjects, but that misses the purpose of praise entirely. God, being infinite, doesn’t require anything at all, much less ego boosts. However, we have a fundamental need to acknow­ledge Him in all His magnificence, and that is what praise is all about. There are two facets to the “sacrifice” part. The first is that this is a replacement for the Old Covenant sacrificial system, since Jesus has given the ultimate sacrifice of His own body and blood. This letter was written to Jews, after all, and the temple in Jerusalem possibly hadn’t been destroyed yet. “Sacrifice” was certainly a significant term to Jews of the day. The other facet is that it’s not always easy to praise God, and doing so requires a genuine sacrifice on our part. At that time in history, confessing “Jesus is Lord” could get you killed for treason, for disloyalty to Lord Caesar. To this day, totalitarian regimes of all stripes hate genuine Christians, because our loyalty is to a power higher than any government. Sadly, we see that going on full force in the US even today, though thankfully the Constitution still hasn’t been abolished. Praising God is seen as an act of sedition by statists of any label, because they want the State to be our god. Praising God is all the more essential in such circumstances.

I grew up in a family that loved to sing, and some of my best memories are of being gathered around the piano, singing through the hymnal. There are some magnificent praise hymns, but they aren’t in the majority. Today, a sad percentage of “Christian” music is simply emotional, man-focused instead of God-focused, and would be hard to classify as praise toward God. As a pastor, I am responsible for what we sing here, and I seek to be careful about such things. I ascribe to the view that the pastor is to be the “chief worshiper.” If I am not worshiping in spirit and in truth, how can I expect others to do so? Sundays are very busy for me, and distractions abound. Sometimes it really is a “sacrifice” of praise! My goal is for every aspect of my life, public and private, to confess Jesus as Lord, both in word and in action, so that others may join me in repentance and faith and receive eternal salvation, for the glory of God.

Father, thank You for allowing me to express that so clearly. I do pray that I would continually offer You the sacrifice of praise that is due You, and You alone, so that I may be fully available at all times for however You want to use me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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