A Sacrifice of Praise
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). Since the beginning of time man has had a desire to sacrifice something to his Creator. Cain brought “of the fruit of the ground” as an offering to the Lord. Abel brought “of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” for a sacrifice to God. Upon emerging safely from the ark, Noah took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl and offered burnt offering to God. Even today, people in many parts of the world bring sacrifices or gifts to God. The desire is there and the sacrifice is made.
What should we offer to God? Indeed, He deserves great things. The prophet Micah grappled with this question (Micah 6:6-8). He tells us that God does not desire burnt offerings of calves a year old nor thousands of rams, nor ten thousand rivers of oil and especially not our own offspring. Perhaps God wants us to be more diligent in attending ecclesia, or maybe that what He needs is more dollars (naira) from our bank accounts, or more of our time in acts of service? Yes, God deserves great things. But these great things in themselves do not please Him. What does please God is a proper attitude, a right spirit. Micah said: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to be contrite before him.” He does not simply want us to give some of our things to Him; He requires that we yield ourselves to Him completely.
Romans 12:1 calls us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, continually yielding our total selves to God including a life of praise and adoration to Him. Hebrews 13:15 says that it is by him (Jesus) that we can offer the sacrifice of praise to the Father. This is the kind of sacrifice that God wants today. He does not require that we offer turtle doves or lambs or calves or bulls on literal altars. He does request a life that honours Him. And He loves hearts that well up in singing, i.e. one way in which we offer the sacrifice of praise collectively when we sing with other brethren / sisters in a worship service. We bring the sacrifice of praise individually when our hearts burst forth in song as we go about our daily duties.
The nature of a tree is revealed by the fruit it bears; in the same way the nature of a person is revealed by what comes out of him. A brother or sister who has a heart filled with praise for God will spontaneously and freely bring to Him a sacrifice of praise with their lips. The sacrifice of praise should be careful and earnest. God requires our best. The Old Testament speaks of bringing the first fruits of the land into the house of God. It speaks of bringing animals that are without spot for burnt offerings unto the Lord. In the same way, now in the New Testament era, we give our best as a sacrifice of praise to our Maker, but singing carelessly and half-heartedly is not bringing our best in sacrifice. The sacrifice of praise need not be something that is difficult for us to give. In fact it should be something we love to give to our Lord. We bring it joyfully: we bring it cheerfully. “God loves a cheerful giver” applies to bringing the sacrifice of praise, as well as giving in other ways. The greatest sacrifice of praise is a life that matches our profession, for then others will see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven.
Bro Uka Egwu (Ohafia, Nigeria)