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!
- Back to the Basics! - February 24, 2020
- Blessing Others with a Valentine’s Day Heart Attack - February 10, 2020
- Are You Willing to Be Humiliated? - December 9, 2019
Thank you so much for that prayer at the end! It was beautiful!
This is such a great post. I tell my daughter all the time that a Thankful heart is the cure for complaining or a bad attitude. Of course, I often have to remind myself of that too!
I really struggle with praise, I don’t know why. I try to have some on after an exercise session and also use the daily office to help incorporate praise psalms.
I enjoyed this post! You are so right, we must acknowledge who is on the receiving in of our thanks. We no longer live in a society where we can take it for granted who an individual is talking about/to when they say “I’m thankful….” It is imperative that believers make that distinction.
I love how the picture at the top of this post feels like we are looking upward to God and giving praise. I thank Him that through suffering He gives us so much strength of character. I love His presence which is with us even when we feel like giving up.
We have to PRAY and give God PRAISE in all circumstances. Being thankful is truly a blessing as well!
I have often struggled with the verse in James … “count it all joy when you face trials of various kinds.” It sounds so much easier than it really is. This was a good read. I hadn’t thought of the “sacrifice of praise” … you also make a good point about who we are thankful to.
I think making this distinction is important! Are we thankful or are we aiming this thankfulness at God? I think there needs to be a distinction!
I really believe in thanking God for my problems. It helps me surrender my control and anxiety.
I think our whole lives are to be a sacrifice of praise. I try to remember that everything I do can be an act of worship or not.
Very true. It so hard to give thanks when life is in shambles. i love how you put it…a percieved benefit. God does all things for our good
I had never noticed this before. A continual offer of praise! Thanks for bringing it to light.
This is such a great post! I’m currently praying for a consistently thankful and joyous heart in all I do. The end prayer is beautiful!
Thankfulness isn’t always easy, but remembering WHO we are thanking makes a big difference!
Your post is very well thought out and the prayer at the end was exactly what I needed! “May we live a life that continually offers you sacrificial praise no matter what difficulties lie ahead.” YES!
It’s so much easier to pray for things we want or need than praise God for good things (or bad.)
YES! I love your point about distinction! People will say (and sometimes I do to) things like “I’m thankful”, “I will choose joy”, or “I have faith”, but if God is not the object of those things, it’s pretty pointless.
This was super intriguing. I never thinking about praise as being a sacrifice I offer to the Lord.
Wow Kristi so encouraging. I recently was on a fast and I am writing three things everyday (profound ones) for 20 days, to be thankful for. It’s kept me sane and moreover build my faith. I so love the phrase, being thankful with distinction.
So, Hebrews is my *absolute favorite* book of the Bible, but it’s been cited as one of the harder books to understand with Revelations and Ezekiel obviously being at the top of the list there. I think the writer of Hebrews is using this “sacrifice of praise” to tie back into the cloud of witnesses he mentions Hebrews 11 (called a cloud of witnesses in 12:1) and how he is exhorting believers in Hebrews 13:13 to go with Jesus outside of the camp to suffer alongside him. So the sacrifice of praise is a costly, deathly one, as some in… Read more »
I want to praise God continually too – through thick and thin!