Oct 25, 2019 filed under Joy, Love.

Child in sunny field

Saint Paul exhorts us to “continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name (Hebrews 13:15).”

Huh? How can praise be a sacrifice?

Rooting around in Jewish sources, I discovered that the word “sacrifice” may have lost something in the translation. To the Jews of Paul’s time, a sacrifice wasn’t something, like doing the dishes, that you don’t want to do, but do because you have to. The Hebrew word qaravan means sacrifice or offering.

The 19th c. rabbi and linguist Solomon Hirsch explains it this way: “The driving force for us to bring a sacrifice or offering to God is to bring us closer to God.”

One writer likened this kind of “offering” to a husband bringing flowers to his wife. The offering is from the overflow of his heart and is meant to bring them closer to each other in love.

What’s in it for me?
It’s easy to forget that everything we are commanded to “sacrifice” for God is not for God’s benefit, but for ours. In fact, it’s not really a question of “gain” either way—it’s a question of love. Praising God enlarges our heart to love, which makes us more like the God who is Love—in whose image we are created.

Human beings
If growing in love is the reason for making a “sacrifice of praise,” it reinforces the truth that we are human-beings, not human-doings. It’s not actions themselves that prepare us for heaven, but rather that following God’s will makes our hearts more like the heart of Jesus.

Ways to be a human being
Putting more emphasis on “being” than “doing” means a slap-down with our to-do list. The way to win that one is to put praise on our to-do list. I’m getting better at “scheduling what’s important”—putting “walk in park” or “adoration” on my calendar and then treating it as an unbreakable appointment with God. Once God’s on the calendar, it’s harder to say, “Oops, sorry, God, I really need to do Facebook now.”

What brings you out of white-knuckle mode and makes your mind free just to soak in the beauty of God, praising him (with or without words)? Music? Watching the clouds? Contemplating a picture in your house? Sitting by the lake? Whatever enlarges your heart to praise God, I challenge you to put it on your calendar and practice living as a human being who, by praising God, is getting closer to him.

Today, let’s offer praise to God, so that our heart will increase its capacity to love as he has loved us. It brings so much joy, it won’t seem like a “sacrifice” at all!

Love always,
Rose

18 Responses to “Can Praise be a Sacrifice?”

  1. DeLourdes

    Just came home from a wonderful brunch at a great restaurant. Now sitting on our sunporch which has a fish pond right out side the windows. Watching the fish and the birds in this beautiful serene setting. Timing is perfect for your message.

    Reply
  2. Christine A Clark

    What an uplifting and crucial message which helped me to see how
    praising God each day brings us up close and more personal to him, not only a sacrifice, but a blessing. Loved this special lesson.

    Reply
  3. Rita M Reardon

    It is only by God grace 🙏 I can praise the Lord. When I get up early and get to mass only by God’s grace. This sacrifice makes me smile because I know God’s light is shining on me.

    Reply
  4. Anne

    Rose
    I really love how you explained it! I’m ‘being’ while ‘doing’ today! Praise God! Prayers for you always. Love Anne

    Reply
  5. Tom Roberts

    “You can praise the Lord by peeling a spud if you peel it to perfection.” Peeling spuds; that’s KP duty in the army, punitive, dreary and a sacrifice In service of others. I had a forty year adventure with the love of my life although many saw the last twenty-eight years as KP duty. Sylvia had a stroke in 1989 which left her hemiplegic. Hemiplegics lose the race to the bathroom. It became my job to intervene, perform the dozens of activities for daily living such as bathing, dressing, toileting; activities I scarcely think about for myself, now made awkward by having to do them on another person. Further, it wasn’t on my timetable, it was now on the timetable of necessity over which she had no more control than I did.

    Friends and professionals urged me to schedule respite, getting away, as the solution to burnout. First of all respite takes money; lots of it. Second, we treasured our time together, literally living in each others’ vest pockets.

    Nevertheless the sheer amount of time and effort took its toll. Finally I remembered there was a small daily mass offered at 6:30 in the morning at a local Catholic Church. I was not catholic. Always curious I began attending. The homilies became what I call my marching orders for the day. They all seemed to be about caring, or that was the message I heard. I heard it in the context of Matthew 25:40 “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” I also became friends with a parochial vicar who offered “Get your identity straight, get your mission straight.” That Resonated as a guy thing and it appealed to me.

    So I joined up and began focusing on solutions instead of problems and actually looking forward to serving. And we had an ace in the hole. Sylvia and I were both driven by curiosity and rewarded by discoveries. So we began crafting cheap solutions to expensive problems. For example, to satisfy her gardening obsession we built three revolving gardens out of children’s wading pools, each holding a quarter ton of soil and revolving on bearings like lazy Susans.

    Thanks, Rose, for rooting around in Jewish sources and discovering the skinny about sacrifice and praise.

    Reply
    • Rose Folsom

      Tom,
      “Get your identity straight” pretty much sums up our efforts to rely totally on God, as you described. Very counter-cultural, but it’s the one and only source of joy!
      Rose

      Reply
  6. Pat Friedhoff

    Thank you, Rose. You help to put things…life in perspective. I often need help with that. Bless you.

    Reply
  7. Lana

    My problem (which is not really a problem) is that my mind and my heart seem almost always now in a mode of “soaking in the beauty of God, praising him without words” as you put it, so that it is becoming hard to make words because I am all the time listening, beholding, and letting this bloom in my heart. In a way, because if who I have been most of my life, this feels lazy and/or diminished. Still, I cannot get enough of *just being* with God, and he is always there so there is plenty of opportunity. But there is still so much I would like to DO and, if I can, to SAY, as a sacrifice of praise. Praise, after all, requires “saying or doing” (poietin in the Greek, or “poetry”) and not only being something. There is something sacrimental in both being and doing at the same time. Not only mental or verbal labor but physical labor or tending to family and friends, for example, can be like that. If you will it, Lord, open my mouth! But if not, I will keep listening a while longer. I am greedy for it.

    Reply
    • Rose Folsom

      Lana,
      I think God is giving you a season of “soaking in” as he does a tulip, which seems to be dead for a season, but is just soaking in nourishment for the next bloom. Your vacation from words will break out into words in God’s time!
      Rose

      Reply

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