- Can the praise of humans be a good and holy thing?
The Bible records that King Hezekiah, “encouraged all the Levites regarding the skill they displayed as they served the Lord” during the Passover festival where “each day they sang to the Lord with all their strength, accompanied by loud instruments” (II Chronicles 30:21-22).
God wants us to hear His encouraging approval of our service in His name. He did not silence King Hezekiah when for encouraging the Levites as they led worship during the Passover festival.
To be clear: it is not right for anyone to covet the praise that belongs to God alone. We’re all tempted to desire acclaim and fame for ourselves, even those who serve on the worship team because we desire to lead people in worship of Christ’s great name.
If we’re honest, we like it when people tell us we are great and gifted. Oh yes, sometimes we servants of God forget the source of our strength and skill and think for a minute (or more) that we can take credit for God’s giftedness. But God in His goodness and love responds to our arrogance by convicting us through His Spirit, teaching us again that all praise, glory and honor belongs to the One who has given us all that we have, and empowered us to do all that we do. Praise God for disciplining us in His love when we need it. He is good to humble us and give us wisdom by teaching us to fear Him.
But He is also good to encourage us as we persevere in the work He’s called us to do. He is not an unkind or ungracious taskmaster. He knows that we are prone to grow weary in well doing. He knows our human nature and the frailty of our frame. And our Good Shepherd is faithful to meet all of our needs, including our need for affirmation and encouragement.
Remember what the Psalmist and worship leader David said about God’s thoughts toward him and us? They are precious and outnumber the grains of sand on the shores of the seas. They cannot be counted (Psalm 139). Our Father delights when His children do what is pleasing to Him, including faithfully and skillfully serving Him and His people. He is pleased when we prepare to serve Him and His people with excellence, by cultivating the skill and ability He’s given to us. We honor Him when we steward well His strength within us.
And God is pleased when we, like King Hezekiah, regularly share His encouragement with our brothers and sisters, fellow servants of the Lord. We honor the Lord when we say to each other things such as:
- “Well done! You have served beautifully with the skills [list them] that God has given you.”
- “Thank you for taking the time to study and practice and prepare to serve the Lord with excellence.”
- “Thank you for being faithful to willingly serve the Lord and His people. Be encouraged that God is displaying His beauty and strength through your life of service to Him.”
These are just a few examples of how we can appropriately encourage one another. Our encouragement should simultaneously direct our hearts to worship the One who has gifted and empowered us to serve Him and His people.
Thank you for faithfully and excellently serving the Lord and His people. Thank you for honoring Him in stewarding well the gifts He’s entrusted to you. May you press on to know the Lord who has strengthened and skilled you for service.
Kristen Gilles is a deacon at Louisville’s Sojourn Community Church. Her new CD Parker’s Mercy Brigade is a story of faith, lament, comfort, healing and worship following the stillbirth of her son. Kristen blogs about worship with her husband, Sojourn’s Bobby Gilles, at mysonginthenight.com.