Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13: 15-16
This text shows three ways to honor God:
• Praise God
• Do good
• Share with others
All of them are described as “sacrifices” – the equivalent, in some measure, of the various offerings that Israel made at the temple. Two of the kinds of sacrifices Israel made to God were:
• The first born from all of her flocks and first fruits from all her fields. That is to say, the minute Israel’s agricultural businesses turned any revenue, the first cents went to God. If you have a business, with vendors to pay and staff to pay and taxes to pay, you know that’s a sacrifice!
• Annual sacrifices of animals or grain in keeping with each household’s income. Each household brought two of whatever it could afford – as large as a goat or as small as a handful of flour. If the gifts were animals, one would be bled out on the altar, creating a vivid visual representation of the damage done against God and God’s people by the household’s sin. The other would be roasted as a gift to God in gratitude for God’s forgiveness.
In this text, God describes as “pleasing sacrifices” our praises of God, our good deeds, and our sharing of resources with those in need.
Most of us find one or another of these easier or more in tune with our personality. I like helping people who are in difficult circumstances or even just sitting with someone who’s having a tough time. I know someone whose parents regularly gave her huge boxes of chocolates and taught to share them among family and friends. Her generosity is part of what has made her an outstanding volunteer leader in a nonprofit. Another friend readily becomes “lost” in singing and playing musical worship.
Of course, it is also true that just because something comes relatively easy to us doesn’t mean that a particular incidence will come easy. Some people “need” too much or at inconvenient times. Sometimes we may want to hang on to our resources at a time when sharing seems mandated. Some days circumstances may not call praise readily to our lips.
What can I sacrifice to God today? How can I praise God, do good, or share resources to offer a “pleasing sacrifice” to my Lord? And will I be willing …