It’s quite difficult to separate true praise from thanksgiving. The one often brings the other, because, at their core, they feed each other.
Yet, there is such a thing as selfish praise. A reimbursement, as it were.
It’s when I use my social capital as payment to one who’s done something for me.
Jesus had just raised a man from the dead. By now, he’d acquired a semi-permanent crowd that followed him around.
He was the long awaited Messiah—the one who will finally give us what we want.
As he enters Jerusalem (which just happens to be the time of year when the Jews celebrate their deliverance from Egypt), the crowds sings “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21:9).
Their liberator was here.
But in only a few days, the very same crowd would be yelling “crucify him.”
And what’s more, the crowd, most likely, didn’t sense the change. They were the ones let down. He was here to consume the Romans, not teach them how to be better servants.
And with that, the transaction was over. Praise was no longer the right response.
A good check point, in the coming year, is to regularly ask: am I praising an idea that flatters me, or am I praising my maker?
The difference will carry us through all kinds of new difficulties.