Jan 7, 2015, 11:00 AM
“Wealth and honour come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29:12)
Most well-to-do people falsely attribute their wealth to their hard work and know-how. They dismiss the divine element in the equation, forgetting that the author of life can at the snap of his finger bring them to naught. How then can you boast of your strength for any accomplishments? “The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass.” (Isaiah 40:7)
The Children of Israel traversed major ordeals travelling through the wilderness on their way to The Promised Land. On several occasions they considered themselves dead, regretting having to leave Egypt where they were slaves. Not long after their departure from Egypt, the Egyptian army gave chase. They cried out to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?’ (Exodus 14:11) Moses appeased them thus: “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22) At another instant, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3) There was no end to their grumbling.
The Commander of the Lord’s army visited Joshua as the Children of Israel were approaching Jericho and said to him: “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its kings and its fighting men....” (Joshua 6:2) Joshua and his men did not have to raise a finger for the collapse and takeover of Jericho, a highly fortified city.
The warning God gave to his people was predictive of the comportment that they would display. Moses had told them: “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of things you did provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12) Each time they panicked, God rescued them by his mighty right hand. Every obstacle was diverted or razed to the ground. He delivered them from it all. Enemy and unfriendly nations punctuated their way; these challenges and adverse weather conditions notwithstanding they made it to Canaan.
Lest the Children of Israel should sweep all what happened under the carpet, God required them to talk to their children about what he had done for them during the forty years they sojourned in the wilderness. On no account should they take credit for whatsoever; therefore God put them on their guard. “Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deuteronomy 4:9) Honour to whom honour is due.
It would be sheer foolishness for a farmer to believe after a bountiful harvest that he provided the rain and the light along with all the other necessary ingredients that combine to guarantee a successful agricultural season. Recognising the touch of God’s hand in the daily occurrences in our lives constitutes a mark of gratitude that gives God credit for what he has made manifest. God’s gestures towards us require our heartfelt gratitude, adoration and praise of his name.
Our Lord Jesus told his audience a parable in which a self-centred farmer attributed his agricultural produce to his strength and ability but never lived to enjoy it. “He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, this is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself. You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. ‘Take life easy: eat, drink and be merry.’ ” “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:17-20) God expects his children to acknowledge his goodness towards them. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Once, Jesus healed ten lepers of leprosy, but only one of them returned to express his gratitude. “He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:16-17) The Jews were supposed to give thanks for good deeds from which they had benefitted but in this case it was a foreigner who remembered to give thanks to Jesus for his healing.
It is a common feature nowadays for people to brush off favour done to them as their legitimate right. A simple ‘Thank you’ has become heavy for our lips. Well, God wants us to be mindful of his goodness towards us – not forgetting or sidestepping him and his ability to care for his children.