A Sacrifice of Praise1
...let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips.
from Hebrews 13:15
God keeps things simple. I complicate them.
All this came up several years ago because people were saying to "Praise the Lord anyway" even when hard things were happening. This admonition could prompt play-acting praise. It would be following what we think of as sacrifice nowadays--something we give up that we don't want to give up. But biblical sacrifice was about giving your best. So shouldn't our praise be our best praise, sincere, what comes authentically from our hearts?
But I do not always have authentic and abundant praise to give.
Sometimes I feel spiritually rich and praise rolls out of me and it's the best. But what about the times I feel spiritually poor? Should I just exuberantly praise the Lord anyhow? That feels hypocritical to me. Surely God wants honesty from me in praise, as well as everything else. I had begun to make praise complicated.
Here's how God brought me back to “simple.” In Leviticus God made allowances (or adjustments) for the poor who couldn't afford the required lamb for sacrifice. He told them to bring a turtledove or a pigeon instead. Likewise, we can bring sacrifice-worthy praise … “pigeon praise” that is honest, within our means and sanctioned by Him.
Perhaps I can't wholeheartedly dance around the house belting out "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," but I can sincerely whisper "I trust You, Father. I know You are faithful" even when I am struggling. That would be my pigeon praise.
Then, good news! There is more! There is more when we bring our turtledove sacrifice of praise and join with others bringing their praise sacrifices. “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise” the hymn exclaims. When we do this, God builds His throne in the midst of that praise (Ps.22:3). This could be why we often exit a place of praise and worship richer than when we entered.
Do you ever feel hypocritical in your praise-giving? What could change that?
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