Imagine going to an awards show and seeing awards handed out with no explanation of the reason for each particular award. Imagine going to the Grammy Awards, which are given for achievements in the music industry. A presenter steps to the lectern with an envelope and simply says, “Our next award goes to…” There’s a drumroll while she awkwardly opens the envelope. She names an artist as the recipient of this award, but never says what it’s for. What was the achievement? Album of the Year? Song of the Year? Best New Artist? Best Regional Mexican Music Album (including Tejano)? (Yes, that’s an actual award; I looked it up.)
It’s not hard to imagine that this would make for an awkward awards show. Sure, artists are being recognized, but for what? We intuitively understand that when we award someone—when we praise someone—we ought to explain why we are doing so.
Do you ever tell God why he’s great? Do you ever speak to him in prayer and explain why it is that you are praising him? Do you ever mention specific things he has done or specific things about him that strike you as praiseworthy?
Last week we took a brief look at the end of Jude’s short letter. In it he includes a doxology (a brief expression of praise):
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.Jude 1:24-25
Here Jude, the brother of Jesus, offers to God specific reasons for praising him. As we saw last week, God is able to keep us from stumbling and he will present us blameless before his presence. This is God’s work! What an amazing act of mercy and grace. We praise God for what he does!
This praise, Jude writes, is to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Then he uses several words to explain the reason for praising him. To God be glory. Glory is the sense of great honor. It refers to brightness and splendor and true beauty. God is beautiful! Then Jude says that to God be the majesty. One source says majesty refers to the state of greatness. We praise God simply because of the state of his greatness. To God be praise for his dominion. There are no boundaries to his sovereign reign. He is King everywhere. As David wrote in Psalm 139, there is no place we can go that God is not there. Finally, to God be praise for having authority. This is closely related to dominion but refers more to his ruling over all creation. His dominion is such that there are no borders to limit his reign, and his authority refers to the absolute way he governs his creation.
As we pray today, let’s praise our God and Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord in the power of his Holy Spirit. Let’s not offer up to him unnamed awards; let’s tell him exactly why he is being praised.