For the sake of argument, let’s say the God of the Bible does exist. His name is Yahweh (or Emmanual, or Jehova, or Jesus, whatever). Anyway, he created the universe, and now he wants a relationship with you. What does this relationship entail? Well, he’s not gonna say much, but that doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you love him, obey him, and praise him. That last part is a big deal. What do you think you’re going to do in Heaven for all of eternity?
The Bible has a lot to say about praising God. There are several dozen verses, and the book of Psalms has an entire chapter about it.
“Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” – Psalms 150, KJV
Christians really take passages like this to heart, as is evidenced by all the Sunday morning worship services. There are thousands of hymns and songs written specifically for the purpose of praising God. It’s the foundation of the entire Christian music industry. As a former Christian, I’m reminded of a song we used to sing in church all the time. It’s called You Are Worthy Of My Praise. But recently a question occurred to me: Why is God worthy of praise?
This might seem like a strange question at first. We’re talking about the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator of the universe here. How could he not be worthy of praise? Let’s imagine a hypothetical scenario for a moment, then we’ll return to that question.
Let’s say you knew two girls in high school who were very overweight, I’m talking not able to fit in a desk overweight. The first one is named Wendy and although you guys weren’t best friends or anything, you got along well and even worked on several assignments together. The other one is named Wanda and she, too, was a friendly acquaintance. After high school you never saw them again.
A decade passes and you go to your 10-year high school reunion. As you’re walking through the crowd you see two girls, both slender and beautiful. At first you don’t recognize them, but their faces seem familiar. Then it hits you: It’s Wendy and Wanda! Both of them have lost well over 100 pounds. You approach them excitedly and they smile when they see you coming.
“You guys look amazing!” you say. “How did you do it?”
Wendy says, “After school I started tracking everything I ate, I cut calories and resisted overeating no matter how much I wanted to, and I exercised for an hour a day. It took a couple years, but I lost all the weight. After that I studied nutrition science and today I’m a personal trainer.”
“That’s fantastic!” you say, eager to heap praise on her. “I’m so impressed. What an inspirational story.”
Then you turn to Wanda. “What about you?” you ask. “How long did it take you to lose the weight?”
“Not that long,” she says. “After high school my metabolism sped up and I lost all the weight even though I ate the same. I didn’t even exercise. Just lucky, I guess.”
At this moment, how eager would you be to praise Wanda? Not very. After all, she didn’t earn it! She just got thin naturally because she happened to be born with a body type that thins out in its twenties (admittedly, this is rare, but that’s beside the point).
Now let’s return to the question. How could God not be worthy of praise? Simple: He didn’t earn it! If God has always existed and he’s always been all-powerful and all-knowing and all-good, it’s not like he worked hard to become powerful or studied until he knew everything or chose to be good. He just was/is. What’s so praise-worthy about naturally being what you’ve always been?
That’s not to say we can’t ever praise people for being naturally gifted. Einstein was born with a powerful brain and Michael Jordan was born with an athletic body, but notice that in both instances they still had to work very hard to achieve what they did. If early in his career Michael Jordan had given up on ever earning a championship and quit playing, people would have criticized him for wasting his ability.
God, on the other hand, has never had to work at anything. He’s just perfect. Well, not completely perfect. His ego is apparently a bit fragile since he needs us lowly humans to constantly praise him and remind him how wonderful he is.
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