By: Jonie Buckley
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
Hebrews 13:15 NIV
In my youth, the words to a song frequently sung were:
“We bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.
And we offer up to You the sacrifices of thanksgiving.
And we offer up to You the sacrifices of joy.
We bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord.”
I recall being puzzled by the meaning of “sacrifice of praise” in both this song and Hebrews 13:15. What does that mean? Why is our praise a sacrifice, and should it be? Was I doing it wrong? I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing anything to praise God. Sacrifice seems cringe-worthy, while praise makes me want to smile. In the natural realm, sacrifice and praise seem to be opposites. However, in the spiritual realm, they are woven together.
Sacrifice requires us to give up something that is valuable to us. You may sacrifice your sleep to care for the needs of an infant. You may sacrifice your time to help someone in need. You may sacrifice your budget to bless another. However, praise does not typically cost us anything.
You may praise the strategic plays of your favorite sports team. You may praise your pets for their obedience. You may praise the excellent service you are given at a restaurant. Our praise is often tied directly to something that benefits us, and we enjoy doling it out to those we deem worthy.
When God comes through for us, we praise Him. When He gives us what we know we don’t deserve, we call Him a good Father. When things work out as we hope they will, we thank Him in our joy. And He is deserving of all praise, but praise under these circumstances does not require a sacrifice from us. In fact, it could seem as if we are simply rewarding God for His obvious blessings.
But when God answers our prayers according to His will and not our own, do we still praise Him? When a diagnosis, accident, or loss hits us sideways, do we still call Him a good Father? When we are patiently waiting on the desires of our heart, do we still give Him praise? In doing so, sacrifice and praise converge. It is here that we bring our sacrifice of praise before the Lord.
We exercise our faith by trusting God will work everything together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). In this way, our praise is no longer conditional upon our approval rating of God’s performance in our lives. Instead, our heartfelt praise must be continuous and from a grateful heart that trusts our King, regardless of our circumstances.
May we joyfully praise You with thanksgiving when You answer our prayers according to Your will, over our own. May our continuous sacrifice of praise be pleasing to You, our good Father, as we pray this in the only name that is worthy to be praised, Jesus. Amen.
“Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 CEV
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me…Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”
Micah 7:7-8 NIV