“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Hebrews 13:15-16 ESV

It was 12 AM, way past my bedtime. I was wide awake and my tummy hurt so bad. Why did it hurt so much? This sucks so much. Mommy probably made some bad Dino Nuggets this time. Suddenly, I felt it. No, no, no, I can’t puke in my bed, I’ll get it all over Joshua (my brother on the bottom bunk). I ran out of my bunk-bed to the toilet, barely making it to the toilet before I relinquished my innards with a mighty hurl. It was the worst feeling I had experienced up until that point in my life. (I was only four, so that wasn’t saying much.)

I heard the heavy thumping of footsteps in the hallways as I hung over the toilet.

“Hey, big guy, you doing okay?” Daddy sleepily whispered to me, wiping the sleep out of his eyes.

I shook my head and groaned, ready to let go another load. Daddy knelt down and placed his warm bulky hand on my back.

“That’s okay buddy, I’m here.”

And there he stayed with me for hours. He brought me ginger ale and Pepto-Bismol to help soothe my ravaged stomach. We didn’t stay in the bathroom all night, thankfully. I couldn’t fall back asleep. After I puked a couple more times and got it all out of my system, we moved out into the living room. My dad, half awake, but still tender, turned on the TV and watched Disney movies with me until the morning light, knowing full well that he had a whole day of work in a few hours to look forward to.

My father is what I like to call a walking sacrifice. We’ve been calling it in our recent sermon series: an “altared” life, or rather as scripture calls it: a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). My father isn’t perfect. His anger issues were difficult growing up with and he never quite knew how to connect with our family emotionally, but he sacrificed, and did so without ceasing. He never neglected to do good or to share with those around him, telling us about the goodness of God in the process. He lives a life that, based on what I’ve seen and according to the author of Hebrews, pleases God.

You don’t have to be a father, nor perfect, to embody the Father’s perfect love. Through Christ, as we read in Hebrews 13, the sacrifices of a grace-changed soul (AKA “Fruit”) become a sweet aroma of praise to our Father in Heaven. Praise almost always looks like a sacrifice in some way. We can’t just float through life expecting God to be pleased with wherever our passions take us. Christ offered himself as the perfect example for us by laying down everything He had and everything He desired in pursuit of His Father’s greater pleasure: to see His people redeemed. By this, we see that our praise is often laying down our desires for something (or someone greater. That praise can look like giving something you have to someone who needs it more. Sometimes, it’s telling someone how God has blessed you this week. Other times, it’s staying up all night with someone you love when they’re sick, just so they know that they’ll be okay.

Thank God for the opportunity of sacrificial praise. Amen.

Jaraed Benjamin Graf

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