In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:6, ESV)
Have you ever met people who always said good things (like “Praise God”, “Thank God”, “By the grace of God”, “God is good”, etc.) when you gave him/her compliment or appreciation? What would you think of those ‘godly’ persons? Do you think they are always real and honest when they are responding that way? Or… do you think sometimes they are just pretending to look good in order to give you a good impression (niceties)? Or you might think they are just simply trying to tell you that “My life is going well because God loves me”.
I suppose that not all people really expect those kind of answers when they are giving compliments to others. Imagine when you have a friend who always relates all the good things happened in his/her life to God. Would you think that he/she is too religious or a spiritual snob? Would you not wonder if he/she is truly a godly person or just trying to be ‘godly’? And you may often see that some people just want to give ‘normal’ answers rather than the ‘spiritual’ ones because they do not want people to think of them as if they are boasting.
In fact, in my experiences I have seen many people who are sort of ‘allergic’ towards “God’s stuffs” or religious attributes. They tend to feel uncomfortable even to have a conversation about God or spiritual matters with those ‘godly’ people. In my view, there are at least three reasons of this apathy or ignorance:
- They think the ‘godly’ people are just absurd. They have found it is hard to believe in the ‘fantasy’. To them, God is not real because they have neither seen him nor touched him. They hate bigotry and can’t really accept the idea of surrendering soul to God if you want the happiness or fortune.
- They think the ‘godly’ people are judgmental. They have seen many religious people often think themselves as highly moral persons, who like to value things from a right-or-wrong perspective. As a result, they often feel as if they were being judged in the presence of these ‘theologians’.
- They think the ‘godly’ people are hypocrites. They have argued that in the history people had struggled with the so-called holy wars, where people fought and killed each other in the name of God. These evil people had used the God’s name to gain authorities, to subdue and overcome others. No wonder that eventually these skeptics chose not to believe in God and rather follow their own ways.
Well, I can understand those feelings as some of their objections are actually quite reasonable. However, while it is true that people might use God’s name in vain in order to impress (or even dominate/control/rule) others, it does exist people who sincerely thank God from the bottom of their hearts. They acknowledge God for all the blessings and goodness they have experienced. In fact, the Bible tells us, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31). Now, you may wonder, “What then really motivates those ‘godly’ people to always praise and thank God publicly or… shamelessly?”
Let me attempt to explain with the following illustration.
Suppose you are an author of a book (or a research paper) and there have been many people who have contributed to your publication. Some of them have given very significant contribution that you would never ever complete it by your own effort. Then, would you be so mean not to acknowledge them publicly? In reverse, when you become a significant contributor to your friend’s work but he/she does not even mention your name in the acknowledgement part of his/her publication, what would you feel? The same is true not only for book or research paper, but also for all masterpieces, such as movie, photography, music album, etc. You should give the credits to the people who deserve the credits! That’s the way you honor and respect the contributors.
So, what is the importance or significance of acknowledging God? I found, at least, three reasons.
1. Expression of gratefulness
All possessions we have and all things with us now are, in essence, the gifts from God. Even every breath we take should not be taken for granted. Nothing is really produced by our own efforts, if we would honestly confess. Therefore, we have no reason for not expressing gratitude. When we are not ashamed to sincerely thank God publicly, we trained ourselves to acknowledge God and remember his goodness in all our ways. It is very important to remind ourselves to be thankful everyday and not to allow a little bad thing steals our joy. When we acknowledge God with a thankful heart, we please God.
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. (John Piper)
2. Show of respectfulness and trust
For if we are honoring people by giving them the due acknowledgement for what they have done, how much more does God even deserve our respect, praises, and honor? God is the ultimate source of life, and we should honor him through all we do, our work and achievements. Moreover, respect is strongly intertwined with trust. Oftentimes you lose your trust when you lose your respect to someone. Thus, just as you trust someone by showing him/her respect, you are trusting God by honoring and acknowledging him.
Live in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God will come to know God because they know you. (Anonymous)
3. Sign of humility
Success is never accomplished by a one-man show. Behind our success, there must be a lot of efforts, supports, and prayers; usually from invisible people who have worked “behind the stage”. Each contributor deserves the due credits. But then, who deserves the most of your success? Knowing that throughout the journey to success there were actually so many things beyond our control (e.g. sick/diseases, misfortune, disaster, etc.) that could possibly ruin our plans, we had better acknowledge that without the “gracious divine intervention” we would never be able to achieve our goals nor successfully reach our destinations. Some people may not confess that their success are from God, instead they would merely argue that it was a good luck that gave them success. They even boast that it was their hard-work and intelligence that have enabled them to succeed. Yes, that’s their right to do so! But I also have a right to believe that it is God who has actually given all the success and blessings for us to enjoy which are ultimately dedicated for his honor and glory! Isn’t it true that the ability to work hard and the intelligence are also given by God? We, human being, are fragile and even our own success can eventually destroy us if we do not handle it with care. Therefore, I believe that surrendering our success to God and giving back all the glory to him is the best way to find rest from all the heavy labors and to enjoy the full benefits of our success. To acknowledge God is to place God on the highest place and to humble ourselves before him.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. (1 Peter 5:6, ESV)
First drafted on March, 3, 2017
Finalized by March, 12, 2017
Vancouver, BC, Canada