11-19-06-The Sacrifice of Praise
We learned last week that we are to give thanks to God in (not for) everything by presenting our prayers and petitions to Him with thanksgiving and then He gives us His peace to protect our hearts and minds from the onslaughts of the enemy. In keeping with our theme for this month on having an Attitude of Gratitude, this week I’d like to look at the sacrifice of praise that is pleasing to God.
¨ Hebrews 13:15-16 (NIV) 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name (NASB give thanks). 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were offered to God in accordance with the Law that God gave to Moses. There were different kinds of sacrifices, but none of them had the power to cleanse us from our sin. Hebrews 10 deals with this very subject, so let’s look at a few verses:
¨ Hebrews 10:1-5, 8-10 (NIV) 1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins (Day of Atonement), 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, . . . 8 he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
It is only through Jesus that we are able to offer the sacrifice of praise to please our God. Without Christ in our lives we have nothing to give God. However, once we have accepted Christ into our hearts, He makes it not only possible, but gives us the will to please God with our sacrifices of praise. So we can see that the sacrifice of Jesus was what cleanses us from sin and makes our sacrifice of praise pleasing to God.
Just as the priests had to continually offer their sacrifices we are to continually offer the sacrifice of praise. In fact, we can even do better than the priests of the Old Testament, because we can offer up our sacrifice of praise every moment of every day, not just in the morning and evening as they did. The Old Testament priests could only make their sacrifices at the temple, but through Christ, we can give God a sacrifice of praise at home, at work, at the grocery store, at school, while mowing the grass, or cleaning the house, in fact anywhere we are no matter what we are doing. We don’t have to wait to go to church to give our sacrifice of praise to God.
So what is this sacrifice of praise that we are to give to God? It is 3 things: the fruit of lips, doing good to others, and sharing with others. Now the phrase “fruit of lips” is an odd one to us. But there is very significant meaning in it. Let’s look at 2 scriptures that use this same phrase: (Isa, Jer, Lam, Ezek, Dan, Hosea)
¨ Isa 57:18-19 (NIV) 18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, 19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”
--(NASB) Creating the 1apraise (fruit) of the lips .
--(KJV) I create the fruit of the lips.
¨ Hosea 14:2 (NIV) Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Isaiah and Hosea wrote during a time when Israel had become divided into 2 kingdoms: Northern—Israel (10 tribes), Southern—Judah (Judah & Benjamin). The Northern kingdom kept wandering further and further away from God until finally they were destroyed by Assyria. Judah is spared for a time, until finally it is carried away in exile by Babylon. Both of these prophets wrote about the sins of the people and how God wanted them to repent. In these passages of scripture, we see that the “fruit of lips” is their confession of praise. They will praise Him for their healing, restoration, and peace. As is always true, once we find a meaning for the phrase “fruit of lips” it will be the same when used somewhere else in the Bible. So when we read this phrase in Hebrews 13:15, it means the same thing—confession of praise—especially for God’s healing, restoration, and peace in our lives.
I think it is significant that the phrase is “fruit” of lips. Fruit is generally descriptive of produce that results from labor and provides food or sustains us as we eat it. Fruit can be good or bad. But there is nothing better than biting into a fresh apple or peach and tasting the sweet juice and flesh of the fruit. Fruit provides nutrition that our bodies need and keeps us healthy. In fact, we are told that we need to eat a certain amount of fruit every day. We use the word “fruitfulness” to describe if something is productive or profitable. The quality of the fruit is dependent upon basic factors such as the right soil, cultivation and fertilization, amount of rain, amount of sunshine, and God’s blessing.
So too it is in our lives that the “fruit” of our lips should be something that sustains us and provides for us. What we say can be positive or negative. When we complain and murmur against God, we have bad fruit. But when we lift up our praise to Him, we have good fruit. Fruit doesn’t just happen, but takes labor to produce. Fruit can be a term that is used to describe our character. The quality of the “fruit” of our lips is dependent upon basic factors also: how well we know and apply the Word of God, how yielded we are to His will, how good our relationship to God is, how much time we spend in prayer, and how much we trust in God.
The fruit of lips is our praise to God for His goodness. It is the audible giving of thanks for all that He has done. It is acknowledging that He is in control and all that we lift up to God goes through Christ first. Christ filters our praise and gives it to the Father so that it is pleasing to Him “as a sweet smelling aroma” (Phil 4:18).
The second thing that is the sacrifice of praise is doing good to others. In reality this may seem like a totally unrelated area, but just as we are showing gratitude to God for what He has done, we are also to show gratitude and appreciation to those around us—especially in the church. (Thanks to Brenda for taking pictures, handling the soundboard, and the PowerPoint. Thanks to Rod for his many prayers and words of encouragement). There is nothing wrong with giving someone in the church a pat on the back when they do a good job. This is not to puff them up, but to encourage them to do more good deeds.
¨ Heb 10:24 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Of all places, the church ought to be the place where a good deed can be rewarded by praise. However, there may be times when someone does something that offends us and it is hard for us to praise them (yes, we are human and emotions can get in the way). That is when it becomes a sacrifice of praise to tell them what a good job they did in spite of how we may feel towards them.
Similarly, when we do something good for others, outside the church, it may be hard at times because we may not like them, or the clothes they wear, or how they smell, etc. We are not to ignore the hungry, naked, or poor but to help them in any way that we can. It may be a financial sacrifice at times, or it may be a sacrifice of our pride or time—but to do good to others is pleasing to God.
¨ Psalm 4:1-3 (NLT) 1 Oh, the joys (blessings) of those who are kind to the poor (NIV weak)! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. 2 The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. 3 The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.
The last way that we can offer a sacrifice of praise is by sharing what we have with others. The word that is used here is “koinonia” which is a common Greek word for fellowship. It suggests sharing what we have with others, which includes our finances. By giving of our tithes and offerings to the church we are supporting the work of the Lord. I know that it is often a sacrifice to give, but I also know that God has promised to bless us back many times over what we do give (Mal 3:10).
2842 κοινωνία [koinonia /koy·nohn·ee·ah/] n f. From 2844; TDNT 3:797; TDNTA 447; GK 3126; 20 occurrences; AV translates as “fellowship” 12 times, “communion” four times, “communication” once, “distribution” once, “contribution” once, and “to communicate” once. 1 fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse. 1a the share which one has in anything, participation. 1b intercourse, fellowship, intimacy. 1b1 the right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office). 1c a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship.
We have established a benevolence fund, which you can give to, so we can help others in the church that are needy. This is one way to share what we have with those in the church. We also give to Dugit Ministries in Israel and various missions’ projects from time to time.
When we give of our possessions (time, money, gifts) then we are using our material resources to do good, and to share with those who are in need. When we don’t have a lot to give it can be easy to not give at all. But by living sacrificially to help others God is well pleased. It is the opposite of accumulating for self.
There is a passage in Habakkuk that expresses the truth of what it means to make a sacrifice of praise:
¨ Hab 3:17-18 (NIV) 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
As we look at Heb 13:15, we see that it called a “sacrifice of praise.” That is because praising God is often something that we have to give when we don’t feel like it. We sacrifice our feelings, our wants, our time, our material goods—so we can give praise to God. This is especially true when we don’t feel like it or are at a low point—that is when it truly becomes a sacrifice of praise. In fact, the lower we are, the greater the sacrifice. Praising God when we don’t feel like it pleases Him because it shows that we trust His Word and that we love Him in spite of the circumstances. It is showing Him that He does not have to do anything to bless us to cause us to praise Him and to believe in Him. We can give Him thanks for all that He has done in the past. We can praise Him for who He is. We can praise Him for His faithfulness as well as His mercy and grace. That is when it is truly a sacrifice and He is pleased when we do it!
As we are sitting with our family and friends celebrating Thanksgiving this week, let’s not forget to give God thanks for all His goodness to us. Although it may be that things are tough or not going the way we would like them to, let’s choose, like Habakkuk, to give God the sacrifice of praise—what can we praise Him for? We are alive, breathing, and have food, clothes and shelter, besides the fact that in His mercy God has chosen to give us His grace and salvation. May our prayer, in good times and in bad times, be that of David in Psalm 51:19 “O Lord, open my lips and I will declare your praise!”
1 Lit fruit of the lips
a Is 6:7; 51:16; 59:21; Heb 13:15
n n: noun or neuter
f f: feminine
TDNT Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
TDNTA Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume
AV Authorized Version