Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Giving of Thanks. . .

2 Chronicles 5:11-14
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course: (12) Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) (13) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth forever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; (14) So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.


The Lord likes to be thanked. In the passage above it is presented as an association, there is a relationship between the lifting up of the voices and music of the musicians and singers and the filling of God's house with glory. Again I say it, God likes to be thanked.

Are we any different. I am not going to pretend otherwise. When I give a gift, I expect a thank you. Sometimes we become so accustomed a the word or a phrase that it loses some of its meaning. What does it mean to thank someone? Is it only the saying of the words?

It would be interesting to count one day, just how many times we say 'thank you'. Most of the time we say it without even thinking about it. Someone holds the door for us, a receptionist pages someone for us, someone moves their shopping cart slightly so that we might get through the aisle. . . depending upon our activities it surely would often be in the dozens of times a day, maybe even a hundred or more times a day, but is merely saying the words 'thank you' in the truest sense giving thanks? Or does it fall into the category of a mindless automatic response?

We often say the words in association with, but I do not believe that thanks are necessary in an encounter of transaction. When I purchase something I give money and they give me something that I value. Is it necessary to give thanks? I place my quarter in a vending machine and pull the handle. Do I give thanks to the machine? The machine or by extension the owner of the machine received my money. I received the gum. There is no sacrifice on either one of our parts. I can always give thanks to God for my need being met by a machine where I 'needed' it, but between the owner of the machine and I, each received something of value from the other and in the strictest sense no thanks is needed.

The occasions on which I indeed need to give thanks are when I receive something that I have done nothing to merit. Even occasions which on the surface seem to be like this are actually events of transaction. In our exchange of Christmas gifts, there is an unwritten/unspoken equation of correctness in giving and receiving. It varies according to our social status and economic means, but we have an unspoken appropriate range of value for each hierarchy of relationship of people in our lives that we buy gifts for. I don't suggest that you actually do this, but even mentally violate those unwritten rules. Just imagine for those close family members whom you always buy gifts for, buy them nothing or some very cheap trinket. Give each of the members of your immediate family an elaborately wrapped item from the same gum ball machine and then watch their faces. Or conversely choose some very causal acquaintances, say co-workers and shower them with extraordinarily expensive gifts and watch the consternation you will cause. We pay lip service to the statement, 'it is better to give than to receive', but watch the turmoil if you violate this equation of appropriate giving.

Please, do not go beyond what I am saying. I am not advocating buying cheap thoughtless gifts for your family. I am not advocating, 'not saying thank you.' I am just trying to illustrate that the everyday circumstances where we 'give thanks' are not really in line with the fundamental meaning of the word meant on THIS DAY, the day of Thanksgiving. . .

The thanks that we offer up to God on this day, necessarily must not be mere words, but to be appropriate must be a deeply felt and humbling admission, a posture of bowing ourselves before Him, a pervasive mental attitude that we have done nothing to deserve anything that you can name that He has given us. From every breath that fills our lungs, every beat of our wondrously designed hearts in our chest. . . every sunrise. . . every sunset. . . every bird chirruping. . . every family member. . . every friend. . . every star in the sky. . . every morsel of food. . . we deserve none of this. There is nothing we can do to make this in anyway a transaction, where we offer Him anything of value to deserve what we have been given. All we have that is of value to Him is our gratitude, our thankfulness. . .

Every day it is my goal. . .

To thank you my God for everything. . .
To love you. . . .

I thank you. . .

Dave Stokely

No comments: