In my former life (haha!), I taught fifth grade. Great age, fifth graders—such a strong sense of right and wrong and able to think outside the box. I really enjoyed my time with them. But I noticed something when we had a test scheduled. Some kids came through the door with woebegone expressions, even hesitant to meet my gaze. Why? Because they weren’t prepared. Now, I gave ample opportunity to study, but there were always that handful of students who didn’t spend time reviewing the material, and it showed in their test scores. You can bet they didn’t feel much like praising at the end of the test, unlike their fellow students who did come prepared and were ready to answer the questions.

When I end the day, aware that I failed the Lord in some way, I don’t feel much like praising either. Guilt has a way of taking the joy right out of you. But that guilt can be a good teaching tool. Failure feels terrible, and if I don’t want to feel that way again, I need to examine what went wrong and seek to make a better choice next time. We are much less likely to fail the tests of life—cave in to temptation, let anger take control, neglect Bible-reading and prayer—if we’re studied up on God’s statutes. When we hide His Word in our heart, we have a ready reminder when the devil tries to convince us to use our time unwisely. Each day is precious…and short!…so let’s use the hours well. Let’s equip ourselves to reflect His character. That will give us reasons to praise.