With gratitude, seeking His glory

A few weeks ago, I wrote about when God doesn’t give us what we want. This week, I’m writing about when He does. 

When I stepped into my apartment almost a month ago, I cried. My kitchen drawers were already filled, my couch already set against the wall, my bookshelves already stacked with books. Earlier that week, my friends and family spent hours moving my things in while I was at work. I was physically surrounded by their abundant gift.

Abundance is not something I am good at receiving. I tend to be afraid of it, like Phylicia Masonheimer wrote about in her recent post about struggling to accept seasons of abundance. I don’t like accepting a ride or a cup of coffee from someone else, let alone asking for a place to stay or help moving a couch. When someone is kind to me, the ledger that I keep in a corner of my mind starts tallying up what I owe, fearing that one day, they’ll remind me of my debt and ask me to repay them. And I know I am not the only one who feels a little wary of abundance, of gratuitous kindness, of–what’s that word for getting what you don’t deserve? Grace?

There could be many reasons why it’s so hard for you or me to receive gifts. Maybe it’s that we’ve glorified suffering instead of glorifying God. Maybe it’s that we’re all too aware of our own brokenness. Maybe it’s simply that we don’t know what to do with abundance. Have we forgotten that God isn’t waiting to drop the other shoe? Have we forgotten that He delights in giving us good things? 

Popular culture and even some parts of the church paint God as an exacting taskmaster, waiting for us to slip up. But God is not exacting; He’s overflowing. He gives abundantly, and He does not expect us to repay Him. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:17-18). God gives. It’s what He’s done since the beginning of time. He gave Adam and Eve breath and gave Abraham and Sarah their promised child. God gave us His Son Jesus Christ, who gave us a way out of sin and into His glorious grace. He knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11), not least of which is the Holy Spirit who guides us (Luke 11:13).

God does not give as the world gives (John 14:27). The world gives expecting payment in return, but God gives expecting nothing in return. He is our good Father, and He delights in giving good things to his children. Sometimes He works through trials to bring us goodness, and sometimes He gives us exactly what we have been praying for all this time. Sometimes His goodness takes the form of cold, dry seasons, and sometimes it takes the form of an abundant harvest.

When abundance comes, we need not respond with guilt or wariness. With God, we do not need to look for the fine print. We are simply called to respond with gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), seeking His glory. When you receive abundance from the Father of Light, whether it’s a quiet morning to yourself or the answer to years of prayer, simply let it be good. Open your hands to the Giver of all good things, and enjoy them for His glory. 

2 thoughts on “With gratitude, seeking His glory”

  1. Again… wow! I loved the sentence, “But God is not exacting; He’s overflowing.” YES!

    One of my informal mentors used to say that in Scripture we find that with God, there’s a huge difference between “out of” and “according to.” We tend to think and expect that God’s overflowing grace is “out of” the abundance of who He is, but, actually, Scripture tells us again and again that God graciously gives “according to” the abundance of who He is. What’s the difference? “Out of” assumes a totality that depletes when He gives; but “according to” assumes His giving is in proportion to the totality of who He is (and, therefore, doesn’t deplete when He gives). We tend to see life as either quid pro quo (give because I deserve) or zero sum (if someone else has it, there’s none left for me), but the reality is that God gives because God is good and knows what is best.

    Thank you for beautifully stating this important truth! God is good and what He does is good (Ps 119:68a) .. regardless of our perspective on it!

    1. Hi Bob–apologies for the very late reply 🙂 I love that distinction between “out of” and “according to.” Thank you for sharing, and for reading! Amen!

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