This verse implies… it’s not about us…and it’s not at all about our “righteous acts”. That’s because God’s infinite mercy and kindness towards us isn’t based on our works. It’s actually quite the opposite…for in Isaiah 64:6 it says, “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God.” And if you think about it, we can’t even take any credit for the relationship we have with God…for without the Cross spanning that chasm between God and man, we’d be lost. No, all honor needs to go to God, the Creator and source of everything. All glory needs to be ascribed to Him… for He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34:6)
When we praise the Lord with a heart full of thankfulness…we rise. We rise above our circumstances, we rise above the current pain, and we rise above our negative emotions. But when we just complain to the Lord…we remain. We remain stagnant in the mess around us, and we remain unhappy…wallowing in self-pity. Now that’s not saying we can’t ever complain to the Lord…Jeremiah and Habakkuk did for a few…but in the end they turned their protests into praise. That’s because they looked beyond their griping and grumbling to the bigger picture of gratitude. When we praise, we rise…but when we complain, we remain.
We hope that we’re honoring God during the Church Service, or when we’re praying for someone in the hospital. But this Scripture tells us that we need to be showing respect to God in everything we do. For if you think about it…all aspects of our lives are ordained by His hand. That includes the mundane and boring, and the simple day-to-day tasks we take for granted. That’s because we never know when He’ll take a practical chore and turn it into a divinely assigned God moment.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul, rephrases this idea in I Corinthians 8:6, when he writes, “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” Even though our feeble human minds have a difficult, almost impossible chance of understanding the sheer magnitude of this Scripture…let’s try. Everything has a starting point. But with God, He’s not only the starting point, He existed before the starting point. And so out of Him and only by Him all things were created…both in heaven and here on earth. And the last time I checked, “all” meant everything! So everything you see, hear, feel, smell, or taste came from your Heavenly Father. Why then, wouldn’t we want to give Him honor, praise, and adoration for what He’s done for us?
This verse starts out with the words, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord”. The Hebrew word for “tell” here has two definitions – the first being to remember or reflect upon, the second being to declare or proclaim. When we stop and reflect upon just how much the Lord has done for us…how many good things He has provided…how merciful and kind He has been towards us – how can we not want to share with others this love? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” It is only by that unwarranted, unmerited love of God you are the person you are today through Him.
Everyday we should be celebrating the many blessings from God…for He does things far beyond the bounds of what we think, expect, or can even imagine. Genesis 18:14 goes further to ask, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” But I heard an interesting sermon the other day challenging the idea of just what a blessing was. Do we thank God only for the good things we have, and that happen to us. Or do we praise Him also for all the difficult, uncomfortable, and bad things that come into our lives? How do we know that something meant for bad can’t suddenly be turned around by God for good? For what we see as affliction, can become the way to deeper holiness and sanctification in our life…or what appears to be a difficult situation may turn out to be a godsend in the end. This gives new meaning then to the song “Count your many Blessings”…for we need to praise God for everything that comes into our lives…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Later in the Bible, the Apostle Paul admonished the Church in Philippi to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) This has to be one of the toughest things to do given mankind’s self-centered, egotistic nature. Instead of seeking out our own 15 minutes of fame, we need to be trying to outdo one another in showing honor. Rather than demanding respect, we need to be recognizing others and praising them for important work they’re doing. Vanity looks for fame and glory, while humility moves “self” off the throne as we esteem others.