A Thankful Heart
“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above"
It is an interesting thing to experience – isn’t it? The more we receive, the less impressed we are with what we have. We can become accustomed to our prosperity and lose the sense of gratitude for what we receive. This is addressed in several ways in Scripture. First, Paul admonishes the Corinthian believers to not behave as though they have acquired what they enjoyed by means of their own efforts. He says to them: “For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).
In the Old Testament, the same concept is taught – when Israel had enjoyed the blessings of homes they didn’t build, and fields they didn’t plant, and wells they hadn’t dug, they must not forget that they received these things from the Lord – “then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 6:12).
We get so used to the grace of God that we begin to believe that it is only right that we receive it. At times, we can even fault God when He “fails” to provide us what we think would be appropriate for Him to provide.
What is it that causes us to properly value the things we have or receive? I recall having this clarified for me most forcefully through my children. One day one of our daughters came running in from playing outside with a large bouquet of gorgeous flowers that she had suddenly discovered near our home. She had carefully picked the largest and most attractive of the lot and gathered them into an arrangement. She came inside with great pride and marched into the kitchen to present her gift of love to my wife, Pat. When Pat looked down, she beheld a little girl with hair askew, filthy clothes, untied shoes, moistened nostrils that had collected the dust of the sandbox, and a fist full of … dandelions!
Now, if FTD had delivered this makeshift floral bouquet, we would wonder about who had “blown” their money on such a foolish expense. Neither Pat nor I would feel compelled to march into our yard and harvest such a bouquet to enjoy on our table (kill them with herbicides, but never celebrate in their “beauty!”). They are seen as a “non-grata” item to be eliminated.
However, when our daughter brought them to us with her smile broadly conveying her love, this bouquet became the most delightful gift we could receive. It was at this moment that we were profoundly struck with the reality that the value of the gift is not inherent, but imputed. The greatest value associated with a gift is the value attributed to it because of who gave it.
So it is with God’s gifts. When we are not focused on the Giver of a gift, but merely on the gift itself, we may or may not be grateful for it. But even the most common of things – such as a meal, or our health, or our jobs – become glorious to us when we concentrate on the One who has given us these things. We are told that “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17).
During this time of Thanksgiving, let us concentrate on the value of what we have – on the basis of the fact that it is GOD who has given these things to us.