By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
How often do we praise God for the stuff he gives us, rather than for who he is? If we exercised complete honesty with ourselves—myself included—we can attest that in seasons of abundance, we have no problem lifting up praises to God. "Thank you for my children's health" "Thank you for opening the right doors at work" "Thank you for my loving spouse." But in times of difficulty, we have a tough time singing the same praises.
Often because we've equated God's blessings with the stuff he gives us. We forget that we too ought to thank God for being God (Psalm 33:4-5).
So let's discuss some reasons why we should praise God for being God, and not just for what he can do for us.
It Breaks His Heart if We Just Praise Him for What He Can Do
My pastor recently preached on the story of the prodigal son. In the penultimate part of the story, the so-called "good" son lodges a complaint against his father when his father throws a party for the other son, the one who just returned home. Let's take a look at that passage.
Luke 15:28-30: "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’"
Essentially he tells his father that his faithfulness came with a price. He expected the father's stuff. The same thing the prodigal son told his father when he fled from home all those verses back in Luke 15.
Parents, think about how much it would break your heart if your child went up to you and said, "I've only been good because I want your inheritance." How often do we do the same thing to God?
Yes, we should praise God for the wonderful blessings he brings into our lives. But that shouldn't be the only time we thank him and glorify him.
It Reminds Us of That He Owes Us Nothing
God doesn't owe us anything (Job 1, Job 2). He doesn't owe us good health, a tight-knit family, a wonderful job, anything. He often gives us blessings by his grace and mercy, but we have to remember that mercy is unwarranted favor (Jonah 4). Emphasis on the unwarranted.
Our culture has gotten so entitled. I have gotten so entitled.
I remember my days in retail where customers would scream me out if a coupon wouldn't scan or if we didn't have a certain blouse in a certain size. We've gotten to the point where we want it, and we want it now.
And when we know that we have an all-powerful God with the power to give us what we desire, we turn ugly.
Praising God for being God reminds us that we have far deeper reasons for why we worship him. The very air we breathe is a blessing, and the fact that he has allowed us to live and get a chance to experience new life with him is a miracle in itself.
God doesn't work with entitled hearts and has a tendency to break them down and humble them. We see this in the story of Jonah, see this in the life of Samson, and see this in so many places in Scripture.
We see plenty of verses that praise God for being God. Let's take a look at some of those.
Psalm 69:30: "I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving."
Psalm 95:1-3: "Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods."
Psalm 118:1: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."
Often the verses in these chapters move on to extol God for some things he has done, but they always start with praising God for being God first. I think the most poignant example we can draw from Scripture is a case where everything went wrong, and the person still praised God. Enter Job. Satan robbed him of his family, his health, his home, his possessions, his wealth, and yet, he still praises God. Let's take a look at those verses.
Job 1:20-21: "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Job 2:9-10: "His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said."
First of all, we can very much see why Satan left Job's wife and friends alive in all of this.
But secondly, notice how in the first section Job praises God, even after he loses everything. He knows that life will bring trials. Scripture guarantees it. But that doesn't mean that we cannot continue to praise God, even in the midst of storms, the midst of dry seasons, and the midst of hard times.
We praise God, not because of what he is doing and what he has done—but also because of who he is. He does shower us with so many blessings, but we don't love our Father because of the gifts he brings, but because we have such a loving Father who has the audacity to call such wretched sinners such as ourselves his children.
Photo credit: Zac Durant/Unsplash
Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,200 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.