God has been focusing my mind and heart on the theme of generosity and gratitude. Today, let me bring you the fruits of the reflection on the funeral of my father-in-law on Monday, combined with teaching about Adam and Eve on Sunday.
My father-in-law had many good characteristics, but what stood out to me was his generosity. It seems this was something everyone who knew him noticed. The funeral chapel was packed, including a very large number of ex-work colleagues. At one time he oversaw 500 people in his role at work. Many of those I spoke to said he was the best boss they ever worked for. He was generous with his advice, time and always had a listening ear, even when it was not convenient for him. That generosity drew them to his funeral to express the gratitude.
The day before the funeral, I spoke on the relationship between Adam and Eve. How it went from blissful to broken and the implications for male and female relationships ever since. However, although that was the intended focus, it became clear that God was the real focus.
“Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:29–30 NIV11)
What do we learn about God?
Have a read through of chapters one and two as well as chapter three, and ask yourself what you learn about God. I would suggest at least all the things below. Perhaps you can find more.
Amongst all these things it is his generosity that stands out to me. He provides all of creation for Adam and Eve to enjoy. He replaces them in the best possible conditions – a situation of beauty and abundance. He gives them guidance as to how to avoid any major problems between themselves and him, and even when they reject him, he is gentle in his questioning, generous in providing them with clothing, and protects them from the full consequences of their actions. Not only that, but he gives hope for restoration in the future.
Gratitude in prayer is engendered by reflection on God’s generosity. How do we express our gratitude? Primarily in praise: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4 NIV11) I am not sure exactly how this works. Is it that praise stimulates gratitude or gratitude stimulates praise? Perhaps both. Perhaps it does not matter. Praise God for who he is, and you will find yourself grateful. Reflect on God’s generosity, and you will find yourself praising him.
One final thought. Gratitude is always possible, no matter the circumstances. : “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NIV11) Our thankfulness is a product of reflecting on God’s trustworthiness. Even though Adam and Eve experienced the consequences of their sin, there was still hope. Eve’s offspring would crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15).
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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)
God bless, Malcolm