October 23 - Psalm 115

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23 - Psalm 115

One of the difficult tensions we face in today’s culture is between the praise of self and the praise we offer to God.  We are taught to believe in ourselves and to believe that we are capable of doing anything. We build each other up by saying things like, “You’re amazing. You are the best at what you do.  Without you, I don’t know what I’d do.  You are talented. You are beautiful. You are phenomenal.”

These words are absolutely necessary in order to overcome the everyday, mundane, things we have to live with.  We say these things in order to help each other come up out of the muck, leave behind the negative and embrace the positive.

But, then we read the words which open Psalm 115 and wonder if our praise might be misplaced.

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1).

When I was very young and began performing, one thing my mother just abhorred was performers who deflected any accolades.  She felt (and rightly so) that the performer was telling the person offering gratitude and praise that they were wrong and had no business saying anything at all.  I learned how to accept praise graciously, knowing that the appropriate time to deflect anything was during the performance, not when someone was trying to express their gratefulness for a moment when their heart was touched.  It was better to encourage the moment of interaction and conversation than to shut them down by being rude.  That’s a difficult lesson, but one I had to learn.

However, she also wanted to be sure I understood where my talent had come from.  I did.  I also understood that the hard work I had put in as I prepared for a performance wasn't just about me. It was about my parents pushing me and encouraging me to sit at the piano and practice. They sacrificed so that I could grow as a musician.  The lesson was that it was never about me.

But, I believe these words are not telling us we aren't to encourage those around us and build them up.  These words are meant to tell us we can’t allow ourselves to believe that we have done it all alone or that we might be the best at something beyond the gifts God has given us.  We are reminded that we are nothing without Him and when we believe we have struck out on our own and been successful without Him, we've missed the point.

The gifts I have come from God. I can never forget that.  Unto Him I give all the glory because of His love and faithfulness.  He is my help and shield.  He is the One who pours out blessings.  I will extol His name forever.