We’re a pragmatic society. Meaning, we usually don’t invest time into doing something unless we can see the personal benefit of it, the more immediate the better. And pragmatism isn’t all bad. Sometimes the right question to ask is, what will get me the result I’m looking for?
But when it comes to worship and praise in the life of the Christian, pragmatism will cheat us out of one of the richest blessings we could possibly enjoy – greater intimacy with God.
There is no immediate, practical value in praise and worship in terms of producing something of value here on earth. Praising God doesn’t earn us money. It doesn’t create more time. It doesn’t build companies or fix broken things or invent new product ideas. Praise doesn’t pay the bills or balance the checkbook.
So a lot of us skip it, to our detriment. We sometimes go a day, a week, a season, or even a lifetime without ever stopping to give praise and glory to God, but if you’re a follower of Jesus, you don’t offer praise because of any immediate benefit to you. There are two other big reasons we worship and glorify God.
1. We praise God because of who he is.
God is God. He is Lord alone. He created all that exists and sustains it by his power and wisdom. And he is good. He is morally virtuous. He is transcendent, existing completely apart from sin and unable to commit it. He is holy. He is powerful.
God is also kind, loving, merciful, forgiving, and benevolent. He offers peace, restoration, redemption, cleansing, and healing. He is love, and he loves, having demonstrated his love toward us in that, while we were still sinners, God’s Son Jesus Christ died for us.
And God is faithful. He constantly remains committed to his people. He never leaves us, nor forsakes us. He remains unchanged. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot lie and leads us into truth. He guides. He guards. He cares.
I could go on, but you get the picture. We praise God because of who he is. We praise him for is very essence and being, for his character and attributes.
2. We praise God because of what he has done, is doing, and will do.
God has been so good to me. He’s given me life, health, a home, a family, a church, a community to call home, air to breathe, food to eat, and clothing to wear. I’ve seen God heal people, answer my prayers, and draw close to me when I’ve felt all alone.
He has done great things for me – far more than I deserve, far more than I could ask or imagine.
And I will praise him for it. For who he is. For what he has done. For what he is doing right now. For what he will do forever.
We need to understand both of these angles from which to praise God. If we only praise him for the ways in which we benefit from his actions, then when we walk through suffering, our faith will falter. We’ll wonder why he isn’t doing what he did previously.
And if we only praise him for who he is, our faith takes on a cold and impersonal tone. So we remind ourselves that he is good, and that we are the recipients of his goodness.
Even if you don’t have a relationship with him, you’ve still benefitted from the goodness of God. The Bible says,
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 NIV
Everything. The air you breathe. The crops that make their way to your table. The very economy surrounding you which sustains your lifestyle – it’s all a work of God. And he deserves praise.
We don’t merely praise him for what we get out of it. We praise him because he is deserving of praise.
And amazingly, graciously, God does give us an immediate, practical benefit for our praise. He communes with us there in the place where we lay our hearts before him.
He fills us. He empowers us. He warms us. He draws us closer. He draws closer to us.
Maybe it’s been a few hours, a few days, or a few years since you’ve consciously and intentionally offered praise to God for his goodness. Why not pause right now to do so?