Depending upon your background and experience in church and in the ministry, a Christian’s involvement in “praise” can cause a raised eyebrow here and there. Biblically speaking, it should be noted that praise is defined clearly in Hebrews 13:15: “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.”
It is interesting to note that the writer of Hebrews speaks of the continual offering of praise. This would mean that our praise is not dependent upon our circumstances. I can think of three areas from which praise should flow from our hearts to God. We should praise Him for Who He is (Creator, Redeemer, etc.). We should praise Him for His promises (hope; peace; Heaven etc.). We should praise Him for God for what He has done (died for our sins, rose from the grave, answered prayers etc.). We will never run out of things for which we ought to praise the Lord.
The Bible teaches us that praise is proper. Psalm 147:1 says “Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.” The Psalmist tells us that praise is “good.” Spurgeon said, “It is good because it is right; good because it is acceptable with God, beneficial to ourselves, and stimulating to [others].”
Notice the Psalmist says of expressing our praise to God that, “it is pleasant.” The word “pleasant” tells us there is something blessed, delightful and sweet about singing our praises to the Lord. Some of the most personally meaningful services I have ever been in were when there was a spirit of praise and worship that was expressed through the singing of God’s people together.
Vance Havner said, “The average Sunday morning congregation appears as if it has gathered to mourn a defeat rather than celebrate a victory. Too many seem to be enduring their salvation, instead of enjoying it. We need to remind ourselves that we've not been called to a funeral, but to a feast!” When a service is alive with the celebration of God's people it is a pleasant experience. There is no joy like the joy one feels when their heart is overflowing in praise to God.
The Psalmist also explained that praise is good because it is “comely.” The word “comely” describes that which is suitable or proper. The same thought is stated in Psalm 33:1, “Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.” The Psalmist is declaring that praise is proper, fitting, and suitable for every believer. Praise is appropriate in Church and in our life. It is a proper offering to give to God.
The great preacher of the Gospel, John Wesley, was about 21 years of age when he went to Oxford University. He came from a Christian home, and he was gifted with a keen mind and good looks. Yet in those days, by his own account, he was a bit snobbish and sarcastic. One night, however, something happened that set in motion a change in Wesley’s heart.
While speaking with a porter, he discovered that the poor man had only one coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn’t even have a bed. Yet he was an unusually happy person, filled with gratitude to God. Wesley, thoughtlessly joked about the man’s misfortunes. “And what else do you thank God for?” he said with a touch of sarcasm. The porter smiled, and in the spirit of meekness replied with joy, “I thank Him that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!” Deeply moved, Wesley recognized that this man knew the meaning of true thankfulness.
Sixty-seven years later John Wesley lay on his deathbed at the age of 88. Those who gathered around him realized how well he had learned the lesson of praising God in every circumstance. Despite Wesley’s extreme weakness, he began singing the hymn, “I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath.”
John Wesley knew he had a reason to praise the Lord and he would not be silent. We are instructed to praise the Lord. It is good, pleasant and proper for us. As recipients of His mercy, love and grace, we have countless reasons to praise the Lord.
God help us to join those identified by the psalmist who declared in Psalm 50:23, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.”