“What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” Psalm 116:12
Beloved of God:
Variously attributed to Muhammad Ali, Marian Wright Edelman or Shirley Chisholm, it is often said that, “service to others is the rent we pay for our space here on earth.” This is not rent we pay because we owe it – the One who has given us life itself has already freely paid that debt. We pay it out of gratitude for what has so graciously been given to each of us.
That is why the question asked by the 116th Psalmist, “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” is so important. The Psalmist wasn’t asking “what shall I give?” Simply giving isn’t enough. The Psalmist recognized that giving must come from the place of internal recognition that “we have freely received and in response, out of gratitude, we now freely give.”
Gratitude is the only worthy motivation for giving. The world is too cold, people are too mean, and the path of service is too difficult for anything but gratitude to carry us. Pride, money, position, power, esteem, admiration, even a sense of duty will fail us every time. True peace, true meaning, true purpose is found only when we move from simply and blindly giving, to gratefully and consciously returning. What the King James Version of the Bible speaks of as “rendering.”
When someone was greeted with the question “What’s up?” in the neighborhood where I grew up, it was common to answer “Nothing but the rent!” That answer applies, not just to the roofs over our heads, but to all of life. The fullness of life is found neither in what we gain or give, but rather in what we return – in the rent we freely pay in gratitude for the gift of life.
May the richest blessings of Christ be with you and yours this Thanksgiving.
In Him, Pastor Maxwell
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