If someone from France says to you, “You are very special,” don’t smile. He’s probably not complimenting you.
“Special” is one of those French/English words which look the same but don’t necessarily have the same meaning. If I tell my wife in English that she’s special (and she is), I mean that she’s got a place that no other has in my life.
But if I said to her in French, “Tu es très spéciale,” (“You are very special.”) she might bop me. The primary meaning in French, when you speak of people, is someone that’s apart, different, maybe a little strange. A special case.
This idea gets expressed differently in different cultures. “He’s about two fries short of a Happy Meal,” we might say of a very “spéciale” person. A German friend says, “The light is on but there’s nobody at home.” Another way to say it is, “His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor.”
The French might say, “He had a baby-buggy accident,” or (and this is my personal favorite), “His mama rocked him too close to the wall.” (You know, “Rock, bump, rock, bump, rock, bump. Makes strange kids).
All these expressions try to describe someone who is just a little off center in his personality. Now, hang on to that thought for just a minute and we’ll come back to it.
I used to wonder about God’s command for us to worship Him. Is He a narcissist, absorbed with Himself?? I mean if I say to my wife and kids, “Worship me!” I’m probably a little “spéciale,” (I’ll leave it to you to guess in which sense of the word).
God seeks worshippers. So what’s up? Fact is, there’s nothing self-centered about it. Worshipping God brings order into our universe.
Prideful man craves worship to inflate his value, but that throws things out of order. Behind this desire is Satan, hankering for what belongs to another. Lucifer tried to seize that esteemed Place and that incomparable Name (Phil 2:9) which belong to Jesus. They are the Lord’s by nature (Phil 2:6) and also because He won them at the Cross. (Phil. 2:9).
“For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise…Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.” (Ps. 96:4, 8, NIV)
A. W. Tozer says, “It is a truism to say that order in nature depends upon right relationships; to achieve harmony each thing must be in its proper position relative to each other thing.” (The Pursuit of God).
When we’re worshipping Him, the universe is in place. We rest in His strength, so it doesn’t matter if we’re not strong enough in ourselves. Faith flows. We rest in His glory (which He accords us—Rom. 8:30), so it doesn’t matter if Satan tries to make us feel worthless.
We derive our worth from Him. When we do that, things are as they should be, when frail men demand the worship that belongs only to God, things are out of order—très spéciale!
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Rev 4:11, NIV)
Praise grates on man’s self-image. We don’t want to acknowledge Someone higher than us, or that we need Someone else.
The truth is, we need to praise God more than God needs our praise. Do you think Someone as powerful, perfect, glorious, wise, good, loving, and compassionate as He is needs my squeaking words of praise to feel important? If you believe that, your mama probably rocked you too close to the wall.
But I desperately need to praise Him!
C.S. Lewis said, “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” (The Joyful Christian)
So praise helps us put things in perspective. We realize He’s in the center of the universe, not us. We see that every good gift comes from above, from the Father of Lights and we begin to thank Him for all His goodness to us.
“While we take to ourselves the place that is His, the whole course of our lives is out of joint. Nothing will or can restore order till our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above.” (Tozer)
And when we do that, the light goes on and there is someone at home; mama scoots her rocker away from the wall; and the little girl at McDonalds throws in a bunch of extra fries for good measure.
Praise puts everything in place.