God Is Not Fooled by Public Praise

This morning during my quiet time I was stopped in my tracks by two simple verses in Psalm 26. I have read this chapter numerous times before; yet, today a powerful and convicting truth seemed to jump right off the page at me. It is an awesome truth I needed to grasp about my worship both in public and in private.

I discovered that in one sense, worship really is about me…

Listen to this: But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful to me. My foot stands in an even place; In the congregation I will bless the Lord. (Psalm 26:11-12)

Notice there are four parts or statements in this passage. Let’s work these verses backward from the last statement to the first.

4. In the congregation I will bless the Lord. It is a privilege to be able to praise God in public with fellow believers. I don’t believe anyone enjoys corporate worship more than me. My expressions of praise – singing, playing, raising hands, etc. – would lead most anyone in our congregation to think I really love God. (Thing is, the congregation can be fooled…)

3. My foot stands in an even place. Also obvious is the stand for Christ I am taking publically. Anyone can see I am standing in God’s house week in and week out. Furthermore, I have a good reputation as a Christian in my community. People who know me can look at me and think, “Now that guy really means what he is singing. He is so faithful to church and he lives what he believes.” In fact, my public walk with God is what gives me the “right” to be able to stand and praise Him in public. It basically validates my praise to people around me. (Thing is, people around me can be fooled…)

2. Redeem me and be merciful to me. While many people can observe my stand for God from a distance, only those who know me really well – my family and close friends – can also vouch for my redemption, ie. salvation. They can recognize whether my life has been changed by God’s power. And those who are closest to me see my (many) faults. They know I need and receive God’s mercy. They can attest to God’s hand of forgiveness and grace on my life. They see my Christian life up close. Based on what they observe, they can recognize that my public praise is real. (Thing is, even my family and friends can sometimes be fooled…)

1. I will walk in my integrity. Integrity here means completeness, wholeness, not divided in oneself. It means I am exactly the same person in private as I am in public. When my congregation is not there, when my acqaintances are not there, when my wife and boys and best friends are not watching me, I should still consistently obey and love the God I praise so loudly in public. I may be able to fool all those people (at least for a while), but I cannot and will not fool God. His eyes are always on me. He knows whether the worship I do in public is honest and heartfelt. He knows whether I sing and speak truthfully because He alone sees and knows my heart.

So you see, for our worship to truly be about God, it must first be about us – the death of us to be exact, the surrendering of ourselves to His total and full-time control. That is the essence of true, Biblical worship.

Now let’s work this passage forward again to grasp the full impact of what God wants to teach us:

1. When we are determined to walk in integrity before God,

2. He places His hand of mercy and grace over us to forgive us when we stumble. He restores us again and again to that walk of true private worship.

3. That, in turn, gives us confidence to stand publicly. Our feet are on even or level ground. We will not slip because God – who approves of our authentic worship – upholds us with His right hand. (See Psalm 37:24)

4. The praise we ultimately utter in public will be pure and authentic praise that God initiates from our sold-out hearts. (See Psalm 51:15) And that is the only kind of public praise that will, as David worded it, truly “bless the Lord”…

(c) 2007 by Dwayne Moore

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