Charles Spurgeon told the story of a farmer who loved his king. This farmer grew a large and wonderful carrot—the largest and greatest carrot he had ever seen. He decided to give it to the king. The king was so impressed by this act of love and generosity that he responded to the farmer by giving him the king’s land that was next to his farm. A nobleman who was there thought to himself, “If that’s the sort of gift the king gives for a carrot, what would he give me for something of real value?” So the next day the nobleman proceeded to make a big show of giving the king his greatest horse—a truly expensive gift. The king was wise and recognized what the nobleman was doing and simply said, “Thank you.” When it was apparent the nobleman was disappointed the king said to him, “Yesterday the farmer gave me a carrot but today you were giving yourself a horse.”
We do not worship God in order to receive from him. We worship him and we praise him because he is worthy to be praised. If he never gave us a single gift, he would be worthy of praise, yet has given us great gifts, including the faith necessary to recognize him as being worthy of praise, and so the response to what he has done ought to be to praise him for who he is. It is impossible to separate who God is from what he does as he is entirely consistent with his own nature, so we also praise him for what he does. Even when things are bad.
When Judah was in exile in Babylon king Nebuchadnezzar issued a royal decree that required everyone to bow down and worship his image. The penalty for failing to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s image was death by fire. Three young men refused, knowing full well that their refusal could result in their deaths. Here is how they responded to the king:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Daniel 3:16-18 ESV
Whether God delivers us from our circumstances or not, whether our health improves or not, whether our financial struggles end or not, whether our relationships are restored or not, whether our loved one survives or not, our God is worthy of praise. Let us refuse to bow down to the idols of our culture and instead point those around us to Jesus our Lord by praising him and worshiping him alone.
As we pray today, let’s praise God for who he is. Let’s pray for his glory to be revealed through us and through the advance of his gospel. He is ever at work drawing men and women to Jesus; let’s praise him for his extraordinary kindness and mercy today.