In this month when social media lights up with thankfulness, I want to pose a challenge to you:
“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 (emphasis added)
This passage struck me as odd when I read it the other day. A continual sacrifice of praise? It’s such an interesting way to phrase that thought. Is it a sacrifice to be thankful for that cup of coffee (or protein shake in my case) that gets us going in the morning? Is it a sacrifice to be thankful for the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the place we call home?
All these are immediate blessings that we start to see when we open our eyes to how God has blessed us. We are essentially being thankful for the things that benefit us and that’s not so sacrificial. It’s more just acknowledging God’s goodness during good times. Wait….are we acknowledging God while we are giving thanks?
Being Thankful with a Distinction
Being thankful is a blessing in and of it self. It allows us to step back and realize what all we have. It may help us reevaluate how we need to be a better steward of what we are given. It also has many health benefits. But during this time of thankfulness, we need to make a distinction to whom we are giving our thanks.
What? I know it sounds sorta silly at first. Most of us would say we are thanking God for what we have, but are we? Many people are thankful this time of year but their thankfulness does not flow to God. Many in their hearts don’t even acknowledge God as being the provider of what they have. They might be thankful to a person, a job, mother nature, or even themselves.
Being thankful with a distinction is one of the ways we can start implementing this challenge of living a sacrifice of praise through Jesus Christ. When we confess out loud that God is the giver of blessings and it is He that deserves our thankfulness then we are not only praising God but we are also pointing others to Him.
When we “openly profess his name” in praise, we are stepping out and professing our love to our Lord and Savior and not caring what anyone else thinks. Sometimes that takes courage and sometimes that takes sacrifice.
Sacrifice of Praise
To praise God is definitely a sacrifice when it is not a perceived benefit to us. I say “perceived,” because we know there is always a spiritual benefit to praising the Creator of our souls but physically Satan could try to punish us and others may not see it as a benefit. Many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world lose their possessions and even their lives for being willing to praise God to their physical detriment. This is one form of a sacrifice of praise.
Another form, which most often occurs in our lives here, is the sacrifice of praising God through Jesus Christ even when things are not going our way. Are we willing to praise God when others are belittling or ridiculing us? Are we willing to praise God when our car breaks down, we lose our job, or sickness has overtaken our bodies? Are we willing to look like a fool for praising a God who has allowed these things to happen? Or do we feel justified in our grumbling and complaining and throw thankfulness out the window altogether?
Ouch! Did I step on anyone else’s toes other than mine? This isn’t going to be easy. That’s why it’s a sacrifice. We very well may have to sacrifice the pleasure we get from complaining, but sisters, it is soooo worth it! God’s gifts are always worth it no matter what we have to sacrifice. Sacrificing a negative attitude for one of praise and thankfulness is definitely worth it!
So how do we incorporate a sacrifice of praise into our lives? 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 explains it this way:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Prayer over our hearts
Lord, we praise you with all that we are and with all that we have. Whatever is getting in our way of praising you, let us know, so that we may deal with it properly. You have created our lives and saved them, so nothing should be more important in our lives than you. Yet, we sometimes put other things in your place, even some of the objects and conveniences you’ve blessed us with. May we set you back on the throne of our hearts and give up what does not belong there.
Oh, Lord! Help us to learn to praise you continually and openly. We thank you for this month where people are learning to be thankful. We pray we will keep this attitude of praise going after this month ends. May we live a life that continually offers you sacrificial praise no matter what difficulties lie ahead.
In the One who continually teaches us what it means to sacrifice – Amen!