Listen to Christian radio for a few minutes and this impression might seem to be confirmed. Depending on which songs you happen to catch, it can seem as if the reason for our adoration and praise have a lot more to do about what God has done for us than Who God is. You’ll hear voices extolling Him for our salvation, our help in times of trouble, and our good gifts that have been bestowed. You’ll hear praise being issued because of how we have benefitted from God’s goodness and not because God is good. All these gifts are worthy of our gratitude, but even if God hadn’t given us these things, He would still be worthy of worship. Worship doesn’t ultimately reside in our condition, but in God’s character. And since His character never changes, regardless of whether He bestows good gifts on our lives or not, He is still worthy of praise.
This is especially important because while it may be easy to extol God in the seasons where things are mostly good, there will likely be times in our lives where this will not be the case. Scripture makes it clear that the rain falls on the evil and the good, and so we should not suspect that just because we love God, we will not experience times of difficulty. (In fact, Christ says if we follow Him, we are promised times of trouble.) If we only praise God for what He has given us, it will be difficult to worship Him in the seasons where it seems the good gifts have been depleted. If we only worship God for what He means to us, we may neglect to worship Him for Who He is. Whether He gives or takes away, He is worthy of worship. Not because of what He has done for us (although even if He never gave us another good thing, He would have been far more gracious and generous than we ever deserve) but because He is holy, He is just and He is true. These are things worthy of our adoration. These are things worthy of our praise.
When we go to a museum and admire a painting we rarely do so with the expectation that the painting will benefit us in some way. When we stand in awe at a beautiful sunset, we don’t expect the sun to turn around and give us good gifts. We praise these things because of what they are; we recognize that apart from our admiration, they have worth. And yet we are tempted to treat God as if His worth lies in our experience – in how His character benefits us. May we instead recognize that He is worthy of worship – because He gives us good things, yes, but even more so, because of Who He is.