Perhaps we are most like the ungodly when we are ungrateful. Contrary to popular belief, no one owes us anything—especially God! Yet, how many of us are blessed by God, as well as the work and kindnesses of others? Productivity, a warm hello, a helping hand, a good meal, etc. Even “self-made” persons do not make their buildings, cars, computers, phones, etc. Others did. Others’ giftings are often gifts to us, and all these come from God. What insolent arrogance when we think we are above displaying gratitude.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him. ~ Romans 1:21
A sacrifice comes with a cost. It is to surrender something we desire for something better, and the cost can be undesirable as the heart breaks.
Typically, “praise” is associated with joy, gladness, and an eager willingness. Honestly, often it is. However, have you ever been in a church service with a broken heart and fractured soul? You still loved God, although you might not have “felt” like it, because your heart ached and your mind was being bombarded with an onslaught of questions. Perhaps only you and God knew what was tormenting your heart, mind, and soul: loneliness, guilt/shame, loss/grief, anxieties, betrayal, etc. And while those around you sang with enthusiasm, it was an extraordinary accomplishment that you got out of bed and made it to church.
What does all this have to do with sacrifices of praise? During these times praise is a sacrifice, feeling heavy as lead as our feeble voice struggles beneath the strain. Chances are, for many, during these times you do not want to offer such a sacrifice. Believe me, I have been there (and still am, at times). Such an offering is not without pain, but it is a sacrifice for something better (albeit, not immediately). While seemingly small sacrifices, God accepts the sacrifices of tear-sprinkled praise arising from broken hearts: “You are faithful, God!” “I love You, Jesus!” “I trust You, Lord.”
For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. ~ Hebrews 13:14-15 (ESV)