“Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of our lips that confess His name.” Hebrews 13:19
The story is told of a father who sat down to supper with his family and said grace, thanking God for the food, for the hands which prepared it, and for the source of all life. But during the meal he complained about the freshness of the bread, the bitterness of the coffee, and the sharpness of the cheese. His young daughter questioned him, “Dad, do you think God heard the table grace today?” He answered confidently, “Of course.” Then she asked, “And do you think God heard what you said about the coffee, the cheese, and the bread?” Not so confidently, he answered, “Why, yes, I believe so.”
The little girl concluded, “Then which do you think God believed, Dad?”
Ouch, again I say, ouch! Which “utterance” from our lips and heart does God believe? We obviously are grateful from our hearts and express our gratitude in many ways to Him for countless blessings. We also complain in many ways about many things. Again, I say ouch! Thank you, Holy Spirit, for this story that probably occurred years ago, and still reminds me of double messages that come forth from my lips. And thank You, dear Father for forgiving me of my “rote prayers” before meals, church, or anytime; as well as my complaints that are just as real as my “rote grace.”
Yes, He hears it all whether we’re in prayer, or behind that obnoxiously slow car on Grand Avenue, or disagreeing with that ref’s call! And yes, He believes our better “mouth” and certainly sees our hearts of praise even when our mouth doesn’t catch up to our heart! But I am reminded again, by this simple story, that what I utter or think by rote, ritual, or spontaneity, matters to Him and me.
Let’s make a renewed focus to confess complaints and walk in new freedom.
Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to create a new song in our heart, a song of praise to Jesus that, yes, can pause for table grace, but truly lingers as fresh fruit from our lips.
Growing in praise,