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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.

 

 

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