My desires, my priories, and my agenda have so often gotten in the way of giving God the praise and thanksgiving he so greatly deserves. He gives us a love greater than anything I could ever offer.
God takes pleasure in praise and thanksgiving. He asks for it. Isaiah 43:21 states, “The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Hebrews 13:15 confirms it, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” And the Psalms are filled with it.
Why did God put a tongue in our mouth in the first place? Why didn’t God simply give us a brain or a heart?
God did not give us a brain to think praise and thanks. Here we go, I am going to think it….
Didn’t that feel good? God did not give us a heart to merely feel praise and thanks. I am going to feel it right now….
Did either of those move you?
God gave us a tongue so we could express praise and thanks. Let’s think for a minute about our attitude to anything we enjoy. Someone asks, “How do you like your new car?” “It’s the best car I have ever owned.” “What do you think of the writer Rohinton Mistry?” “His books ‘A Fine Balance’ and ‘Family Matters’ truly bring insight to the plight of people in India.” You get the picture—anything we enjoy we praise.
Enjoyment overflows spontaneously into praise. Our delight in anyone or anything overflows naturally into praise. What’s more, whatever we praise we praise not simply because we happen to like it; whatever we praise we praise believing that praise is fitting. We praise the work of Shakespeare or Mozart or Rembrandt because we know that our praise is not misplaced. We praise what we admire and our admiration isn’t wasted.
Another aspect of praise is that what we praise we implicitly recommend; we urge others to read or listen or experience and therein come to praise themselves. What is impossible is to say to someone, “I read the most marvellous book last night and I trust you will find it dreadful.” Someone else’s praise of what we have come to enjoy completes our enjoyment.
We are to praise God because of his mighty deeds. His mighty deeds are what he has done and what he continues to do—the creation which came forth through his word, the deliverance of his people from the degradation of slavery, the rising up of prophets who call the people to that love and loyalty and life which they were always losing sight of, the provision of God’s own Son as a remedy for our depravity and disgrace, the bestowal of the Spirit who is nothing less than the life-giving breath of God himself, the calling of Christian leaders of any era who have smiled and even praised God in the face of suffering and opposition and death.
God’s mighty deeds are startling. As we recall them our minds are taken beyond the deeds to God himself. The Psalmist in Psalm 150 cries out, “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.” The exceeding greatness of God is who God is in himself, not merely what he has done. It is as we know ourselves included in what God has done that we praise him.