Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.

Hebrews 13: 15

 

The first thing that comes to my mind as I consider these words is singing songs and reciting poetic prayers that describe the attributes and the qualities of God and that thank Him for how He takes care of me and the people that I care about. Expressing my praise to God verbally is a valid way to worship Him, and it is necessary for me to do in order to stay focused on the Lord and off of myself. Still, I think that the author of Hebrews had something else in mind here. It strikes me that the sacrifice involved in these forms of worship is not really all that great; these cost me some time, a little effort, and, depending on the location and who is around me, some personal comfort.

 

The thing that God is asking me to give to Him in a sacrificial way is my total being, my heart, my soul, and my way of living life; God wants it all, and He desires it always. This is a big deal; this is not so simple as opening my mouth and uttering a few words, heartfelt as they may be. God wants the heart that conceives those words, and He asks me for the actions that come out of that heart as well. It is through Christ that this way of living becomes possible, for He is the model of being this way; Jesus is the key to understanding what a life of self-sacrifice is like. 

 

A life that is surrendered to Christ, dedicated to His love, and committed to living in the totality of grace is what God seeks from us. The praise that God desires most comes out of the relationship with Him that is formed through our relationship with Christ, and it is expressed most profoundly by the very way that we live. Although Jesus spoke words that were powerful and had great impact on the ways that people live and on our understanding of God, it was His actions that spoke most clearly. Jesus filled His days with acts of love, compassion, care, concern, honesty, and grace that give us a living portrait of our God. He related to His world and to its inhabitants without regard to their status, lifestyle, or personal history; and without concern for His own welfare, image, or personal gain.

 

Although the sacrifice that God seeks is costly, for He desires us to give ourselves totally, the promised reward is much greater, for the Lord does fill us with His Spirit, and He fills our lives with  the fact of His view of our worth, strength, and purpose. As we acknowledge Christ through our lives, God blesses us in ways that are too great to even imagine in my simple mind.