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Why God Wants Your Praise

Last night I watched Game 3 of the NBA Finals with my youngest brother, Robert. During one possession of play, Dwayne Wade, the Miami Heat’s Shooting Guard, felt as if he was fouled on a play but he did not receive the benefit of the doubt from the referees. Frustrated from the call — or lack thereof — he ran back to his team’s side of play yelling at the refs, to which Robert commented, “Why is he yelling at the referees? He knows he’s not going to get the call reversed?”

Then it dawned on me.

Wade knew he wasn’t going to get the call reversed but he yelled anyway. He was frustrated. But his frustration wouldn’t be complete — or fully expressed — unless he finished by verbally expressing it. So in order to fully express it, he yelled at the refs.

Conversely, the God of the Bible wants our praise. But why? Is it because he needs it? Is it to make up for a deficiency?

C. S. Lewis in his legendary Reflections on the Psalms, comments on this when he writes:

The most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or any thing — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflow into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought into check.

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that’s magnificent?” The Psalmist in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment . . . It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

Therein lies the answer. John Piper adds by saying, “We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak of what we value and celebrate what we love and praise what we admire, our joy would not be full.”

Piper continues: “God wants our praise not because he won’t be truly God until he gets it, but because we won’t be fully glad until we give it.”

True joy and satisfaction in life can only be found in knowing and praising God. And because God seeks the fullness of our joy, he not only gives us himself, but he also seeks to win the praise of our hearts. That’s why he wants our praise. So our joy would be full. What a good dad.

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