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Mature Appreciation

September 3rd, 2018

Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD and said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did. (2 Samuel 23:16-17 ESV)

If you follow Oswald Chambers devotional My Utmost for His Highest you know that this text was his for September 3. It touched me this morning due to a certain situation that I am dealing with. This matter of appreciating the cost of someone’s gift or action toward us reveals our maturity, or lack of it.

David revealed his maturity in that he appreciated what these three mighty men did, that they had risked their lives for him, just to bring him a drink of water from Bethlehem. David, however, dare not drink it, but out of respect to the men poured it out before the Lord. They showed their loyalty to him, and he showed both his loyalty to them and to God, and his respect for their sacrifice, risking their lives just so he could have a drink of water.

The immature person receives gifts from others and thinks nothing of the cost of them. The immature person would drink the water, and perhaps ask for more. In some manner such an action reveals inexperience in life, and not necessarily an unkind or ungrateful spirit. Young people often feel a sense of entitlement, that they deserve this or that. But when this attitude persists into adulthood, when we receive gifts and kindnesses with no thought of their cost to others, then we reveal our immaturity.

Someone may say, “But these things are given to me. Why can’t I enjoy them?” Well, here is a matter that is deeply personal and spiritual between us and God. Sometimes it is disrespectful to the giver not to receive and enjoy the gift. We need wisdom, but the wise person is also sensitive to the circumstance. There were times that David received gifts when he took them and thanked the giver and moved on.

And even our Lord accepted Mary’s anointing him with expensive oil, while Judas complained of the waste of it (John 12:5-6). Often unbelievers, who help no one but themselves, complain about the beauty and expense of church buildings and say this money should be given to the poor. They do not realize that this is not a competition between loving God or loving others. The love for God that constructs a beautiful church building, is the same love that motivates the people of God to help the poor. It is when the church stops thinking about the glory and beauty of the Lord, that it also stops caring about the poor.

Our eyes must be fixed on Christ, and we must avoid being distracted from doing what is right by those who always complain. We can never practice faith if we are only concerned with what the most negative person will think. The unbelieving will always find something to complain about. The Bible warns us of the stingy person “who is inwardly calculating. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you” (Prov. 23:7).

I believe this is the way we should think about such things, whether gifts or acts of kindness and support:

  • All of these things should be received as grace gifts, not as entitlements.
  • All of these matters should be received with appreciation toward God and toward the giver.
  • All should be assumed to have been costly for the giver to give or to do. We should never take for granted that it was nothing for them to do this.
  • All should be dedicated to the Lord, and used exclusively for His glory
  • While not doing our acts of righteousness before others in the sense of some perverted false display of religious devotion, we should be thoughtful of how others might perceive this.
  • We should look for some means to return the favor to others – to bless someone else, someone who is in a greater need than we are.

Chambers wrote on what acting like David would do to our faith and our temperament. He wrote:

If you have become bitter and sour, it is because when God gave you a blessing you clutched it for yourself; whereas if you had poured it out unto the Lord, you would have been the sweetest person out of heaven. If you are always taking blessings to yourself and never learn to pour out anything unto the Lord, other people do not get their horizon enlarged through you.

 

 

Thanksgiving

Being Grateful

November 24th, 2016

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in  Christ Jesus for you.  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)


Being grateful is both a grace gift and a Christian discipline, not a Christian emotion. We are not to be grateful only when we feel like it, but by faith we are to regularly give thanks to God. The passage above from 1 Thessalonians does not mean that everything that happens to us is God’s will, rather that it is God’s will that in every circumstance we are to give thanks.

When trouble comes we can claim Romans 8:28-29:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

In the midst of difficult and frustrating circumstances, even when our hearts are broken, there is something good God is doing in our hearts through that event. He is recreating us inwardly into the image of Christ.

We read in Malachi 3:3 how God purifies His people.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver.

The refiner would carefully watch over the silver as he refined it through heat. If he walked away and neglected it, it would be ruined, so when it says “He will sit as a refiner” it describes the attentiveness of the refiner to his work – making sure that the fire is not too hot or too cool. He would gentle skim the dross and the impurities off of the silver as the heat separated them from the silver or gold. The refiner would know that his work was complete when he could see his face reflected on the surface.

God watches over us carefully, and through all our trials He looks to see His face reflected in our character. He measures them carefully, not walking away and leaving us to the terrors of spiritual aloneness. Rather as our loving heavenly Father, He carefully and attentively watches over us.

I don’t know if you have ever read the 23rd Psalm in the Living Bible, but it beautifully describes the love and watchfulness of our Good Shepherd.

Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!
He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.
Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.
You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies.
You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!
Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with my all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.

Today stop to thank God for His goodness to you, for His faithfulness, His blessings, and for your own salvation. Gratitude does more to our own souls than we can ever imagine.

Thank Him also for the challenges you face, for the things that you have asked for that He has deemed not to give you. Let Him skim off the dross and impurities of your heart until He can see His own face reflected in His work of grace in your life.

Thanksgiving ,