People praise the thing they love. No matter how long you have been married there are times when you look at your wife with the eyes of first love and you tell her how much you love her and how beautiful she is. Praise is love flowing out from the heart.
We praise what we love. We praise what we value, and we praise what we enjoy.
Alabama fans praise Alabama. Ole miss fans praise Ole miss. State fans praise Mississippi State. Let’s say I am an Alabama fan, thus I will cheer for and praise Alabama. Do you think for one minute that Alabama needs my praise? The value of my support is not what it does for Alabama; it is what it does for me. If I didn’t get anything out of it, would I continue? That is where we see the measure of a fan’s true love for their school, whether or not they will praise them when they are not winners.
Expressing my love for God – how I value God (worth-ship), how I enjoy God – makes me a better person. It lifts me up. Praise is not for the benefit of God. C. S. Lewis said it this way, “I don’t need my dog to bark approval of my books.” God is complete, he needs nothing. God doesn’t need our praise. Praise is for us. The expressions of love, of value, and of joy is for our benefit.
If you go to worship Sunday morning and you are not capable of, for at least a moment, losing yourself in praise to God, what does that say about how you feel toward God? Do you love him? Do you value him? Do you enjoy him?
The Westminster Shorter Catechism says it succinctly; “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” When we are worshipping God, we are achieving our purpose, being what God made us to be and do. Thus, praising God is good for us! Worship is not for God’s benefit; it is for us.
Worship is inner spiritual health made audible. If there is no soul-tingling, mind-bending, emotion-touching, will-transforming enjoyment of God, then there is no soul-tingling, mind-bending, emotion-touching, will-transforming worship of God! Can the worship of God be present when the enjoyment of God is non-existent?
I can sing songs, play music, and “do church,” but if there is no understanding of what it means to be fully satisfied in God, then there will be no desire to publicly express my praise and gratitude in real worship of God.
Some people find it very hard to show any outward expression of deep worship. It maybe shyness or a strong sense of learned decorum that inhibits such an outward expression, keeping it hidden within. Unfortunately, this also diminish the value – to good to be gained — in worship.
In the same sense, unbridled, overabounding outward expressions of worship can be nothing more than learned behavior, detached from any inner reality. This kind of worship is done as a show to make one look good before peers. This too, diminishes the benefit of worship.
True worship is a genuine, heartfelt adoration of God, centered on his character, flowing from a deep love and gratitude for his grace and mercy. When such worship is expressed, we find the full benefit of worship as God intended.
God doesn’t need our praise, but oh how we need to worship him.