Thank God for what?
I was sitting in a church we visited a while ago, and we were singing songs… in the “Praise and Worship” category. And then something struck me…
They were 99% songs praising God for the things He gave to us. It was the same in prayer. “Thank you for my children’s health” “Thank you for opening the right doors at work” “Thank you for my loving husband.” and then “will You be with us now that it is so difficult”, “will You make sure that we can live safely here”, “will You… do x for us”….
All these things that God has a hand in are things that we should of course praise Him for. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but still… it got me thinking…
Somehow it felt like the songs were more about “me” than God… thank you for what I got, God I ask you to give me more X, God give me more of your… etc etc etc …. more, more, more… me, me, me….
And that didn’t feel right….
Humanly speaking, we often do this. We often praise people for their deeds, the things they have done. We praise the world record maker for what they accomplished, not for the person they are, we praise them for the record they broke. Likewise, we don’t praise Olympic athletes for their character or personality, we praise them for their skill and ability. We don’t praise musicians for who they are as a unique individual, we praise the music the musicians create or perform.
But how do we praise those we really love, those we really relate to?
Suppose I say to my wife: “I love you because you cook food for me….” or “I love you so much because you just did my laundry”….
Sounds strange right?
Because why do I love my wife? Because of what she does or who she is? When we’re really in a relationship with someone, we love them for who they are… not what they do. For their character, not their actions. Sweet, gentle, smart, cheerful, fair, beautiful, creative, etc, etc.
Real praise to God comes from real love for Him. True love for Him is MUCH more than loving Him for what He can do for us. Just as we shouldn’t have a relationship with someone just to benefit from him or her, we shouldn’t claim to have a relationship with God if the only reason we love Him is to get something from Him. If we never praise God for His character, for the core of who He is…..mhhhhhh…..
But still…. When I went to look at all those songs….. 99%.. Thanks for what He has done, not for who He is… and that is strange…..
Reminds me of the story of the prodigal son coming back. We all know that story of the son who came back, but pay attention… the son we had stayed home… there is something about that:
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!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”Luke 15:29-32
Do you notice something? It’s a bit like “I’ve only been good because I want your inheritance.”… not because of who you are…
Do you see the difference? The point is… God owes you and me nothing.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;Job 1: 21,22
may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
God doesn’t have to do anything for you and me. Full stop. He often gives us blessings through his grace and mercy, but we must remember that mercy is an unjustified favor. We have not earned anything, it is God’s grace if we get anything at all.
So let’s look at the character of God:
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.Psalm 147:5
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.John 17:17
God is creative!
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:27
He is truth, creative, skillful, sovereign, gracious, merciful, compassionate, loving, and so on and on.
So, there is a difference between praising God for what He does and for who He is. This should also be reflected in our prayers and lives and should affect the way we see and portray Him to those around us and to the world. Our God is indescribable in much(!!) more than His deeds.
Now comes the question, what am I praising God for? Do I praise Him for more than what He can or has done for me? How is my love for Him portrayed by the way I praise Him? Just for His actions… or do you really have a relationship with Him and love Him for who He is?
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.Psalm 95:3
Why this is so important? Let’s just say…there comes a time…. When God does not give you what you think you should have…. Your health is only getting worse…. That new job won’t come…your car breaks down…If you only praise God for what you get and what you got from Him in the past…. What praise do you have left now? Maybe your whole life, from the beginning, has been a lot of misery… and you don’t see any improvement.. What’s left for thanksgiving?
If you only love God for what He is doing for you… What do you do when He (for His good reason) does nothing?
Do you still praise him? Or was there more than just “praising God for what He does” and did you have a real relationship with Him? If you have a real relationship with Him, you can always praise Him, with a lot of love. For who He is. Only then will your relationship with Him survive the greatest storm. Because then the circumstances are not decisive for your love for Him, but it is about real love.
Something to think about as you sit in church and watch the songs roll by… are those songs secretly more about you than about God… where is the balance? 99% or….. mhhhhh… something to think about….