Praise Is More Than Positive Thinking

A number of studies reportedly show the benefit of a hopeful attitude. Patients, for example, who expect a positive outcome in their circumstances have a higher recovery rate. Praise supposedly helps students perform better as well. So along with discouraging corporal punishment, society now pushes positive reinforcement.

This has been going on for some time. Now, in order to make all little leaguers feel loved and accepted, everyone receives a trophy. Regardless of talent or ability (or attendance at practice), all kids must play. Never mind that the idea behind competitive sports is competition—the kind that produces a winner and a loser, or a runner up, if you prefer. But clearly, not everyone playing is a winner.

Many of the kids may have shown a work ethic or the ability to cooperate or a team spirit. But in the end, some kids are better than others; one team is pronounced the champion. Others may have done their best, but their best didn’t produce enough points or enough defense to put them ahead on the scoreboard when the last out was recorded.

Praise, as it turns out, is only temporary unless it is tied to truth. I can say all day long that I’m the best basketball player in my age and gender group, but that does not make it true. I might feel good about myself because of my perceived ability, but what happens when I play against someone better than I am?

As it turns out, a study some years ago indicates a connection between “too much” parental praise and narcissism in children.

True praise will not ascribe something false to another just to puff them up.

In contrast to the fakery of parental praise—or if not feigned, then manipulative (if I tell him how great he is, then he’ll perform the way I want him to)—praise offered to God stands on the truth of God’s character. He is worthy to be praised because He genuinely is the greatest, the sovereign, the almighty.

Praising God starts with recognizing Him for who He is. He is kind, consequently He deserves praise for His kindnesses that are new every morning. He is love, consequently He deserves praise for His love that never fails. He is just and therefore deserves praise for his righteous judgments. He is merciful and therefore deserves praise because His mercies never cease.

When we recognize the truth about God—about His Person, plan, work, and/or word—either we can respond directly to Him in the form of thanksgiving (publicly or privately) or we can reflect what we see by offering Him praise (corporately or personally). Scripture refers to these responses as sacrifices—of thanks or of praise.

I will render thank offerings to You.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God
In the light of the living. (Psalm 56:12b-13; emphasis mine)

No, we do not live under the sacrificial system any longer. Jesus Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust so that He might bring us to God.

But God delights in our sacrifice of praise:

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. (Heb. 13:15)

Jesus modeled this act of praise to God. Many who Jesus healed and even those who witnessed the miracles praised God for His marvelous work. Some of the disciples, when they were persecuted, responded by praising God with psalms and hymns.

In fact, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving is the very mark of His Church:

you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:15)

Praising God is not wishful thinking or hoping for the best or positive mind speak or any of the other human endeavors many engage in. Praising God is anchored in the truth of His character, His promises, His acts of mercy, His way of salvation. In other words, God deserves recognition.

When the President of the US comes to California on one of his fund raising trips, nobody ignores him. He has police escorts and roads are closed off to allow his motorcade to pass. The media reports his arrival and covers his activities. People pay attention.

Recognizing someone’s existence or presence is not the same as praising them, however.

God wants more than our awareness of His existence or our willingness to meet with Him regularly. He wants us to shout our gratitude for His traits, for the wonders He performs, for the rescue He pulled off in transferring us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son.

The psalmist rendered thank offerings for a reason: because God delivered his soul from death and his feet from stumbling. Our praise today should be no less anchored in truth.

This article, with a few minor revisions, first appeared here in March, 2015.

BTW, have you noted today’s date: 02/20/20, 😉


  1. Yahweh/Jesus committed genocide and ordered it though intermediaries.

    How is that in any way loving?


    • Ark, when it’s convenient, you make claims that sound like fact. This accusation against God is just an erroneous claim. God committed no genocide, nor did He order any, apart from his use of one nation to judge another. Using your logic, every act of capital punishment is murder. Some people actually think so. I don’t. We could debate that all you want, but the point here is that God has the right to judge. Even the responsibility to judge. A loving God stops wicked people from doing wicked things. The fact that God is patient and gives people opportunity to repent shows just how loving He is.



      • Do you read a different bible to me?
        According to the bible, Yahweh wiped out the entire human race save for one soon to be incestuous family in a global flood.
        Also …
        Joshua 10 verse 40. King James Version (KJV)
        40 So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, *as the Lord God of Israel commanded.

        Joshua 12 verse 20
        For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses.

        Here you can see that the intent of Yahweh/Jesus was their annihilation as
        purposely prevents these city states from
        even having the chance to ”repent”.
        He acted in a similar manner when he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, remember?

        *My bold

        These are just a couple of many that are marked in pen in my KJV.
        Would you like me to look for others?


  2. Ark, we apparently read the same Bible, but I suggest you read more carefully. Whenever God brought judgment on a people He was purposeful, gave them sufficient time to repent of their wickedness, and in many, if not all cases, sent warnings to them to stop what they were doing and repent.

    Essentially what you seem to want is a god who just gives stuff but never actually enforces any of his rules. But that’s not the real God. He stands behind His word.

    Take the Amalekites, for example. They attacked and embarrassed Israel all during the journey to their homeland. They continued their assault on the nation for the next 200 hundred years! Only then did God say, Enough and sent Saul to judge them. In addition, this was not an ethnic cleansing. Even though Saul said he’d killed everyone except the kings, later in the history of Israel we read of Amalekites. So apparently God was referring specifically to the Amalekites who were attacking Israel. This falls into two categories: self-defense, and God’s judgment on that group of people who he’d given at least 200 years to turn around, to stop the harm they were doing.

    When you’re talking about Egypt, they had enslaved Israel for 400 years. They had plenty of time to repent. When He sent Moses, they had ten opportunities to free the slaves, and they refused. At some point God draws a line. He doesn’t allow evil to go on forever.

    You can look at every account in the Old Testament in which God sent one nation against another and it was ALWAYS because He was asking them to carry out His judgment. Yes, sometimes He used miraculous stuff like the plagues in Egypt. Sometimes He used what appeared to be natural causes, like famine, and sometimes He sent a nation against another nation. Regardless, the reason was always to carry out His just and righteous judgment.

    Check it out, if you don’t believe me.



  3. Stop dishing up your apologetic clap trap.and address address the specific points I raised in my comment.
    Start with the genocide of the global flood.
    And please bear in mind that although the tale is fiction with no evidence to support it it is still taught as fact by those who choose to ignore the science.


    • Ark, I’m not sure why, when I answer your comments with facts from Scripture, you refer to that as “apologetic clap trap.” I absolutely addressed the issues you raised in your comment.

      The flood? Look at the context. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Except for Noah. Again Scripture reiterates the problem: “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.”

      At that point, God said, Enough. He essentially saved Noah’s life and his family, because the way the world was going, the others were on a course to destroy everybody.

      I maintain that it is not “genocide” or “murder” for a judge to sentence a criminal to death.

      I understand that lots of atheist want to reserve the right to judge for themselves. And that’s the problem. Whoever wants to take God’s job as judge, is acting from a place of ignorance—not being omniscient, not knowing what those people were like in their hearts. Nevertheless, the tendency is to judge God for being a just judge.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Because what you refer to as”facts of scripture” simply do not exist.
        I have decided to end any further interaction with you, Becky.
        Trying to reason with a thoroughly indoctrinated YEC is simply pointless.
        I am not sure if you are suffering from a form of mental illness but I can only wish you well in finding some professional help.


        • Oh, Ark. True to form. If you can’t actually answer an argument, just insult the holder of the view with which you disagree. Pretty predictable, and a little sad. I had begun to think you might be serious about having a real discussion. But no. In spite of the many time I have told you, my beliefs on creation don’t fit into the neat little pigeon-hole you try to jam me into, you persist, as if you know what I believe better than I do. Funny how you don’t seem to understand, “We don’t know how long God actually took to create the world.”



  4. Love the very first sentence!


    • I misspoke. The ‘first’ sentence I referenced said that praise is based on the character of God. When I went back that wasn’t the first sentence but was embedded in the article. Still love it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, grace.



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