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 13:15 (ESV)
While driving home from work one evening I found myself following a quarter ton truck loaded with rotten fruits and vegetables. The farmer must have gathered them to feed to his animals. They were certainly not fit for human consumption; not something anyone would want in his mouth.
The Greek word used for fruit in Hebrews 13:15 refers to plucked fruit, ripe, ready to eat, good fruit, fresh from the tree. This would lead us to believe that our sacrifice of praise is the best fruit of our lips, the first fruit of the picking, not something that is left over, blemished or rotten. Many people over the years have taught that a sacrifice of praise is praise that is given when the worshiper doesn’t feel like praising. This definition doesn’t embrace the full meaning of what the writer of Hebrews intended. It also places the focus of worship on the worshiper instead of the one receiving the worship.
As you read through the Old Testament book of Leviticus you will find that the sacrifices required in the Tabernacle of Moses were only acceptable if they were without blemish. The worshiper didn’t bring something he didn’t want or could not use; he brought the best of his flock, and he brought it willingly (Leviticus 1:1-3; 22:21). The requirement of a true worshiper is the same today. He must bring the best that he has, not his leftovers, and he must bring it willingly.
Worship doesn’t depend on how the worshiper feels but on how great a God he is worshiping. Worship doesn’t depend on the outward appearance of the worshiper or his circumstances, but on the greatness of the one who controls the circumstances and the work he has done on the inside of the worshiper.
Notice that the writer of Hebrews says, Through him let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. The “him” he is referring to is Jesus. Though we have a responsibility to worship the Father, we cannot come to him on the basis of our own merit (Hebrews 10:19). Jesus’ sacrifice makes our sacrifice of praise acceptable to God. It is only through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross that we can offer to God the best that we have.
To make our sacrifice of praise to God complete, the fruit of our lips (the words of our mouths) must acknowledge that God’s name is great and greatly to be praised (Psalm 48:1; 99:3). King David proclaimed, With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good. (Psalm 54:6 ESV) Our sacrifice of praise thankfully acknowledges that God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We have nothing to offer God that he has not given us. In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28 ESV).
How often do we come before God to offer our sacrifice of praise? We offer our sacrifice continually; through the good times and bad times, sickness and health, abundance and lack.
Are you offering your best to the Father? Do you continually acknowledge him name with thanksgiving?
Scriptures for meditation: