Sometimes, as I am reading through the Bible, just one little verse will stand out and bring a great deal of conviction to my heart, as well as reenergize me to live better for Him in light of the truths I read.
When this happens, I like to journal about what the Lord has done in my heart through the text, and so this weeks “Pastor’s Pen” comes straight from the pages of my personal journal as I was making my way through the book of Hebrews awhile back.
I encourage you all to make journaling a practice in your daily devotions with the Lord. It helps to give you perspective on how the Lord has grown you over time and also gives you great reminders of truths that He has taught you so, as is the case today with me to you, you can share with others.
All this being said, this verse, found in Hebrews 13:15 was the one that stood out to me. It states:
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
After reading this verse, I was convicted that I must constantly convey commendation to Christ in my communication.
Do you like that alliteration? I thought it was pretty clever myself ;-)
Not to be too “preachy” but what I am basically going to do is walk through this verse, phrase by phrase, picking it apart and seeing what we can glean from it in regards to this idea of commending Christ in our communication.
So the verse opens by stating “Through him…”. This, of course is referring to Jesus. That is who the “him” is, here in this verse.
While this might seem like a simple phrase, it is packed with one of the biggest truths that each every Christian should know and embrace. The truth is that it is through Jesus, our great Savior that we should see this world, and it is through His great example and sacrifice, that we should act. Therefore, we need to be in the constant habit of “considering Jesus” as the author of Hebrews states over and over again throughout this book.
Jesus needs to be on the forefront of our minds constantly. He needs to be our hearts desire. He needs to be the reason we get up in the morning. As the author of Hebrews reminds us in ch. 1, Jesus:
“created the world” and “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
In other words, Jesus is God. He is the reason that we live and breath. Every heartbeat is ordained by Jesus. Every hair on our head is numbered and accounted for by Him. Every star and every planet was placed and named by Jesus Christ.
More so than all of those things, this same God-man, Jesus Christ, loved each of us who know Him, in particular, by paying the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, so that we might not have to endure the eternal torments of the wrath of God for all eternity, which we deserve.
He not only ordained and planned our physical lives, but He also holds our spiritual lives, our eternal lives, in the palm of His gracious and loving hands. So, if we know Him, He should be everything to us. Jesus is what we should live, breath, eat and sleep.
Therefore it should come as no surprise that the author of Hebrews makes this statement: “Through him…”. It is through Him that we should see everything that transpires in this life, good or bad. “Through him”, we know that no matter what happens to us in this life, that, as the author of Hebrews quotes earlier in ch. 13:5-6 quoting from Joshua 1:5 and Psalm 118:6:
“(He) will never leave (us) nor forsake (us).”So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper;I will not fear;what can man do to me?”
Nothing. Man can do absolutely nothing to us, because “Through him” as our texts put it, we can view this life and live in it with the perspective that our Savior is in control. As the hymn writer puts it:
“From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.” (Keith and Kristen Getty)
The truth about Jesus should make your heart sing and pour forth from your lips, as the text goes on to say. We can and should be constantly offering up a sacrifice of praise to God because it is “Through him”, through Jesus, that we live, which leads directly to the next part of the verse…
“…let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God...”
If you read the book of Hebrews then you know how deep the author gets in explaining the finality of the Old Testament sacrificial system. The author preaches the end of the sacrificial system by the once for all sacrifice of the perfect sinless sacrifice, by the perfect sinless high priest, the Lord Jesus when he writes in ch. 10:
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired…in burnt offerings and sin offeringsyou have taken no pleasure…when Christhad offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified…he adds “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
The O.T. sacrificial system is done. Over with. Completed through the perfect sacrifice, and the perfect high priest. Therefore, it might come as a surprise to read in ch. 13:15 the author telling the readers to continually “offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.”
However, as the author teaches throughout the book, just because the once for all atoning sacrifice was made on our behalf, does not mean that our work is over. It actually means it has just begun. In light of the once for all atonement of Christ on our behalf, we should be motivated to continue offering what the Lord actually desires of His redeemed people, which is, as our texts puts it, a “sacrifice of praise”. This term is closely related to Psalm 50:14, which reads:
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving… to the Most High”.
The Lord, in this O.T. passage is not calling for an animal sacrifice from His people, because that kind of sacrifice is done and over with, with the once for all sacrifice of Jesus, but instead a willing sacrifice of praise to Him, through the “fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” which leads to the last part of the verse…
“… that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
“Through him”, as the beginning of the verse puts it, we should, as believers who are continually focused and renewed by the thought of our great Savior, the Lord Jesus, we should be a people who produce fruit from our lips that acknowledge His name. Jesus should not be a foreign concept in our conversations with people in other words. We should constantly be speaking of Him and praising His holy name with all that we have, to everyone we meet, saved and unsaved included.
This means that through Jesus, and the praise to Him that we should be continually offering, that we should be known as some of the happiest and joyful people that others have the privilege of meeting. Christians should be known for the good fruit that proceeds from their lips. True Christians cannot help but be positive in their speech with others.
The speech of the Christian should be to others like tasting, sweet, delicious, ripe fruit off the vine. Because they are in the constant habit of offering a sacrifice of praise to God, and are constantly focusing their attention upon Christ their Savior, they should be known for being joyful and pleasant to others.
Nasty, complaining people, who only focus on the negative, and feel compelled to share that nastiness and complaining spirit with others, need to check themselves to see if they really know the beautiful, gracious and merciful Christ.
If you find yourself constantly complaining, constantly being negative about everything and anything and never, never speaking of Christ in regards to the joy He brings through His salvation, you have a serious spiritual problem.
Spurgeon once said:
“When the vulture of (complaint) has once fixed its talons in the breast it will not cease to tear at your vitals.”
If you can complain about non-sense, unabashedly, unashamed and uninhibited, your lips are certainly not producing “fruit” but instead thorns and thistles, and we all know where those end up.
Church goers who never talk about the glories of Christ with others are in the same boat. We should be a people who encourage one another by constantly pointing each other to Jesus in our conversations. He should constantly be near in the subjects that speak about.
We need to be offering up sacrifices of praise together, acknowledging His name and producing the good fruit that our great God takes pleasure in.
In our interactions with the unsaved, we need to constantly commend Christ to them in our speech. It is so easy to be negative in the work place. Complain with your co-workers about the boss. Join in on inappropriate conversations.
However, we need to guard against those things by constantly having Christ at the forefront of our thoughts and striving to honor Him by offering up the “sacrifice of praise” to Him. Joining in those kinds of conversations and being constantly negative does nothing for our testimony and destroys our ability to witness in a cohesive way.
However, when we are constantly offering up a sacrifice of praise, people will know where our allegiance lies, where our joy comes from and, by His grace, He will open up opportunities to witness so that others may be able to know Christ and the joy that comes “Through him” as our text states.
So in way of conclusion, let me challenge you to do, as our text states, constantly convey commendation to Christ in your communication.
Give yourself an honest evaluation, asking yourself a few questions:
- How often do I think upon person of Christ? Do I really see this life “Through him…” as our text states, constantly glorying in His person?
- Does the thought of Jesus bring me happiness, joy, and peace through which I see the world, or is Jesus simply part of an theological equation that will get me to Heaven someday. Is Jesus a means to an ends for you, or is He your reason for living?
- If so, how is this reflected in the crop of my speech? Am I continually producing a “sacrifice of praise to God” and fruit that displays the love that I have for Jesus, or is Jesus name a rare word that you utter infrequently?
- When I speak, do my words commend Christ to others, drawing them to Him by the fruit that is produced, or do I turn others off by the briers, and thorns and thistles of my speech?
- Do I have a negative attitude and an openly complaining spirit that pours out through my speech?
Ask yourself those things. Evaluate yourself today and pray to God to help you in your affections towards Christ, and His Gospel, and then ask Him to help you reflect those truths in your communication.