Friday, July 10, 2009

"The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving"

One requirement of a heart of peace is the determination to be thankful for that which we have rather than covetous for that which we do not have.

"O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever... And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Psalm 30:12; Luke 12:15).

This truth is so obvious that it seems unnecessary to even consider it. However the simple realities of God's Word are often those most easily neglected. Thanksgiving is a principle affirmed by every born again believer, and covetousness is rejected by all. In the every day realities of life, however, it is easy to reverse our principled perspective. Coveting that which we do not have can so fill our sensibilities that little room is left for the gratitude that sweetens our soul. It often happens seemingly without our awareness that this destructive intruder has entered our heart and mind. And when it does, determined action on our part is required to restore our soul.

The action is one of exchange. We replace temptations to covet with remembrance of that which God has given, and with sincere thanksgiving. This may involve things, circumstances, situations, and conditions. It also may involve little emotion, and if it does, we may continue for a time to feel the emotional aspect of covetousness even as our heart and tongues are expressing gratitude to God. The Psalmist declared, "I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving," and in times of the pain, anguish, and tears of longing, exchanging covetousness with thanksgiving may feel very much like sacrifice (Psalm 116-17). Our natural inclinations often die hard on the altar of faith, and the lust for things God has chosen not to give rarely goes quietly to its demise.

We can only imagine what the sacrifice of gratitude must do in the heart of our Heavenly Father. He fully understands the price we pay to give thanks rather than covet, and doubtless He receives our offering with both empathy and joy. Certainly He also determines that our willingness to do without things that our flesh desires - and to do so with thanksgiving - will not go unrequited. "The meek... shall inherit the earth" proclaimed the Lord Jesus, and one reason that they will do so is that they have been willing, for the glory of God, to forego much that the world has to offer (Matthew 5:5). May our Lord grant much grace in leading us to replace thoughts of covetousness with thoughts of gratitude. His heart and ours will be abundantly blessed, and His name glorified as the smoke from our altars of thanksgiving declares that the Lord Jesus has filled our hearts to the degree that we share the Apostle Paul's joyful affirmation...

"I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

(Philippians 4:12)

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