“He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.” Ps. 50:23, NASV
How do we honour Jesus? We give Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise.
What does it mean by a sacrifice? In the Old Testament, people brought animal sacrifices. These sacrifices were to be the best they had to offer. It cost them something. Some were voluntary and some were not. In neither case were they to be a drudgery, but a joyful expression of love for God. In fact, in this Psalm, if you look at the context, God said they were faithful in bringing the animal sacrifices, but God was looking at the heart and had seen they were just doing it out of duty and routine. That has never been good enough for God.
Sometimes we fall into the same trap. We go to church, we sing, we praise, we read our Bibles, but it is just routine. There is no real joy in it. It is just what we do - a compartment of our life. Jesus always looks for something deeper…He looks for real relationship.
So how do we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving or praise? For us a sacrifice is something we give to Jesus that costs us something. Is it easy, natural or routine to give thanks when things are going wrong, we are confused or life is being painful? No. While we should be thankful at all times, we can only offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving in times of distress when we feel like complaining or wallowing in self-pity. It is then that we have the opportunity and great privilege of bringing a true sacrifice and expression of faith in the goodness of God in spite of what our eyes and/or emotions are telling us.
Some people struggle with the idea of God requiring the scarifice of thanksgiving, praise and worship. They wonder if God has an ego problem that He must demand these things. In our fallen state it is a natural question, but it shows a misunderstanding of the nature of God.
When a person has confidence in who he is, it doesn’t matter what other people think of him. We can see this in various people we know even through the best of us is only partially self-aware. God is perfect and totally self-aware. He knows Who He is. He knows how great He is. He has no need for anyone - human or angel - to tell Him so. He has no “ego” that needs to be stroked.
Why do we have so many commands for thanksgiving then? It is actually for our benefit. We are so self-centered and focused on our problems, our desires and our little world that we are in self-destruct mode. We were not designed to be self-focused. Giving thanksgiving and praise to God takes us out of and beyond ourselves. It helps us focus on Someone Who is not only greater than we are, but also Who is totally worthy of all that we can give Him regardless of what happens to us. It is impossible to exaggerate the beauty, wonder and greatness of our God.
At the risk of offending some, as we move into the area of worship we move into an even deeper relationship. As Christians we are the Bride of Christ - His wife. God is a Spirit and so we don’t relate on a physical plane, but on a spiritual one. Worship is how we make love to our Husband. It is a spiritual act of joining two into one. It is a vital part of our being united to Christ.
And the result? As we are increasingly united to Christ and consciously working on living lives that are pleasing to Him, He will show us His salvation. This does not mean we aren’t saved in the conversion/new birth sense. While salvation begins there, the concept covers everything that God has for us in Christ. It is a progressive experience until we receive the fullness of it at the return of Jesus.
Note: If you are using the King James Version of the Bible, the beginning verse uses the word “conversation” instead of “way.” This is an example of how language changes over time. When the KJV was originally published the word “conversation” meant a person’s entire lifestyle not just their speaking.