Sunday, August 5, 2012

Being a Grateful Child

When they had pasture, they were filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they forgot Me.” – Hosea 13:6
I use to have a peach tree that every year would bear so much fruit that the limbs would literally touch the ground.  They were weighted down with peaches – big, juicy, ripe peaches!  I’d failed to prune it because I worried that it wasn’t strong enough to handle the pruning, or maybe it wasn’t the right time to cut it back.  The tree eventually began to lean, and split in half. Too much of a good thing, when you’re not strong enough to handle it, will ruin you as well.  Likewise, it can ruin our children.

There’s a reason we as parents are told not to “spoil” our children by giving them everything they want and holding back discipline (“pruning”) when it’s due.  What may seem as unjust to those who aren’t in our shoes is in fact what is growing our children into hard-working, respectable, strong adults.  Giving a child everything they want will cause them to stop seeing you as a loving parent and see you as a vending machine.  They’ll walk up to the glass front, see past it to what they want, and continually pull your levers to get what they want.  They’ll stop loving you for you, and love the things you provide.  Out the door will go respect, admiration, and even the fellowship of family.  A little sacrifice, a little doing without, a little “no”, does a world of good in creating a normal life for a child.
Ephraim and the other tribes of Israel experienced a season of God’s “spoiling” when blessings were plentiful.  But during that season, they became prideful of the things they had accomplished and forgot that God was the root of all those blessings.  As God reflects on what went wrong, He discovers that all that He has given them has made them children who turn to him when they want something – not because they love Him. 

In Hosea 11:7 He says, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.”  They haven’t stopped praying – they’ve just stopped loving and worshipping God.  When they need something, they turn to Him.  But when things are good, their bellies are full, and they live comfortable lives, they don’t talk to Him at all.  Eventually they stop acknowledging Him as the source of their blessings at all, and calculate their wealth as their own doings.
More often than ever these days I hear people using the word “blessing”, or saying “I’m blessed”.  I love that.  There’s no more “fate” or “luck”.  “Blessings” is a word that means it wasn’t something I did – but it was a gift.  But last night as I was watching the Olympics and heard one athlete say “I’ve been blessed” and I had to stop and wonder if they were giving God glory or just saying things had turned out well for them.  If we don’t stop to give God glory for the blessings we receive our hearts can become like Ephraim – full of self-pride, and in denial of God’s hand in our lives. 

I think God deserves undeniable glory and praise for what He has done.  Saying “I’m blessed” is like riding a fence between believers and non-believers.  It’s like a secret password that Christians will believe is God related, but non-believers will believe is fate related.  It’s politically correct. 
While “I’m blessed” is good, “I’m blessed by God” removes all doubt and insures that He gets the glory He deserves.  It’s like being the child that gets that special thing they want, and remembering when your friends ask where you got it to say “My Father gave it to me.”

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