This morning, I read Psalm 134 where it calls upon the reader to praise the Lord.
“Now praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who stand in the Lord’s house at night! Lift up your hands in the holy place, and praise the Lord! May the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.” (Psalm 134:1-3)
As the average Christian reads those three verses, they probably feel the pangs of conviction and think: “I really need to praise the Lord more. I don’t do it enough.” (Of course, by “praise,” we mean enjoying times of contemplation on the Lord’s incredible attributes and proclaiming the glory of those attributes.)
Let’s suppose that I’m speaking to a hypothetical believer. He shows up for church but sings the songs half-heartedly. Away from church, he acknowledges that he rarely speaks of how wonderful God is.
After he acknowledges his struggles with praising God, I pose this question to him: “Do you LOVE the Lord?” More than likely, he would give a resounding “Yes! Of course I love Him! Doesn’t every believer!?”
And that’s the problem … we separate love and praise. In reality, the two are directly tied to each other.
For example, I absolutely love my wife. We spent a few hours together recently to do a little Christmas shopping for our boys. Now, I cannot possibly tell you how much I loathe shopping but I wouldn’t give up the time we spent together for anything! We laughed. We held hands. We communicated on a deep level on topics ranging from how we’re raising our boys to what we think God is up to in our lives. It was FUN because I loved the person I was with, my best friend!
Now, imagine that you came up to me and said, “Matt, I wonder if you could give me 5 things that you greatly admire about your wife.” I guarantee you that I would have no trouble whatsoever! In fact, I’ll rattle off a few right now:
1. She loves the Lord.
2. She loves and takes care of her family.
3. She brings out the best in others.
4. She genuinely cares for others.
5. She has a servant-heart.
6. She is a high-achiever.
7. She is industrious.
8. She is frugal with her family’s finances.
9. She’s fun to look at!!!
10. I could easily keep going…
That list didn’t take me long at all. Essentially, it’s a list where I was singing Kim’s praises. Why did I find it easy to praise Kim? Because I love her! Praise is a natural outflow of love.
Now, let’s imagine that a husband and wife aren’t doing too well. They constantly fight and the love fires are burning dangerously low. If you were to ask each spouse to give you 5 things that they admired about each other, do you think they could do it? Probably not. Why? Because it’s difficult and unnatural to praise someone that you don’t love.
So, are you praising God like you should? When’s the last time you praised Him, I mean REALLY let ‘er rip? Maybe a more relevant question would be: “Do you even feel like praising Him?”
If you’re struggling to obey all of those biblical commands to praise God, maybe you should start somewhere else:
“He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-39).