By Pastor Royston Smith
“I’ve done well… if I say so myself” and “woe is me… nothing I do is good enough,” such self-esteem exposing phrases. Who doesn’t relish praise? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places esteem needs near the top of the pyramid and emphasises its influence on human behaviour. People starved of praise often display negative behaviours, which if not addressed could destroy their lives.
There is a delicate balance between enjoying praise and embracing humility. The Bible informs us that our self-focus stems from the fact that we are all corrupt and sinful. Isaiah recognized this reality and declared, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5. When we see God, we see our sinful and corrupt state. We recognize that He is the one who deserves our praise.
Many of us praise stones, papers, and status. Our idols we have chosen. We are so engrossed in materialism that some of us will lay down our lives for gold, diamond, and pearls. Consumed with money, wealth, and stocks, we exchange eternal life for short-term gain. It’s sad (on social media) the extent to which people go to achieve popularity, power and ‘godlike’ status. The buzzword today is viral. Any action, be it embarrassing, intrusive or shameful is okay once it makes someone famous. We want others to know us.
“Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits. Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know me. I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are my trademarks,” Jeremiah 9:23-24. Too many of us are distracted by other gods. This hinders us getting to know the true and living God and enjoy the benefits of praising Him.
After Mark Twain had made his triumphant tour through Europe, where he was honoured and praised by academics and royalty, his daughter said: “Daddy, I guess pretty soon you will know everybody except God.” The truth is, it doesn’t matter who you know or how many you know. Ultimately, knowing God is the only relationship that matters. When we praise Him, we declare that we truly know Him.
“People knew God, but they did not honour him as God, and they did not thank him. Their ideas were all useless. There was not one good thought left in their foolish minds,” Romans 1:21. When we get to know God, we can but praise Him. This practice places the focus right where it belongs. Our shortcomings and inadequacies are highlighted, and we become more open, and receptive to the regenerative power of Holy Spirit.
So, as we celebrate this season of good will and cheer let us (not just for a moment) turn our eyes heavenward and give God what he truly deserves. We can only truly praise Him when we humble ourselves. Our heart-felt expressions of love, adoration, and thanksgiving belong to our Creator, Provider, Sustainer and Restorer. Give God his due. Let him be our forever praise.
Father God, we know you alone is worthy of all praise. Please accept our worship, through your son Jesus Christ, amen.