Summary: At the heart of thanks is God’s grace encapsulated in a right understanding of ourselves in relation to God; humility.
“At The Heart of Thanks” I Chronicles 16:24-36
There was once a man who set out to have a well dug in his own house that he might draw water from it whenever he wished to drink. The experience of this man’s well, reminds me of what I perceive to be the rather encumbered faith of so many believers in our day, who recognize their need for God but only go as far as seeking to be excited by Him, motivated by Him, but never experience the depth of His grace at work their lives.
You see, the man hired workers and they began to dig. They dug through mud, clay, and stone, but found no water. Here is the example of the supposedly deep experience of many, all earth and no living spring, the filth of the mud and rocky places of our lives revealed but not removed, the leper discovered but not healed.
Another hundred feet of hard digging, deep in the dark, but no water; still deeper experience of God, revealing His truth but not yet fully discovered. Then a third hundred feet, and still dirt, but no crystal clear water. Here we see illustrated the very finest grade of the deeply skeptical believer, who has been denied the teaching of the trustworthiness of the Bible. This man ridicules the joys of faith as being of the flesh and overly presumptuous.
Still on, on, on went the workers, till one day, leaving their tools to go to dinner, upon their return they found that the water was raising fast and their tools were drowned. Be this last, the true experience of grace – to go so deep as to reach the springs of everlasting love and find all my poor doings and efforts have broken in on me, covering all the mire, and rock, and earth of my poor, naturally evil heart.
It is at last, as we come to the deepest place of God’s revelation to us that we discover what it is at the heart of thanksgiving; grace. For you see, it is only when all of my works, all of my knowledge, all of my longing and reaching up to God are covered by the crystal clear water His grace at work in my life that I see myself for what I actually am; a sinner, separated from God and in desperate need of the one thing which can redeem my condition; the abundance of God’s unending grace working in my soul. (Adapted from Spurgeon’s “Deep Experience of Grace”)
This evening we celebrate Thanksgiving. Tomorrow there will banquet feasts, celebrating the blessings of family, friends, and God’s abundant provision. Here, tonight, it is my goal to focus on what is at the heart of thanks; grace.
And more specifically, on that which is the gateway to experiencing the depth of grace that is available to us; namely, that which allows us to relate rightly to God, that most precious and necessary of Christian virtues which allows us to gaze past self, past pride, past all of that which clutters our pure vision of God; humility.
D.L. Moody The 19th century Congregational Clergymen and founder of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, once said that, “Man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult [near impossible] to counterfeit humility.”
At the outset, let us clarify what humility is not, that we might come to some right understanding of what it is. There is the story of two very elderly ladies who were roommates at a local nursing home. These lovely little old ladies were sitting together over a small Thanksgiving meal prepared for the residents of this nursing home. The two ladies, and the others at their table, were sharing together things for which they were thankful.
Some folks shared that they were thankful for their families who came to visit them regularly. Others shared that they were thankful for the many years spent with their spouses and other such things. Finally, it was the turn of one of these dear old ladies. In her turn, this lady showed the simplicity of thanks. She said, “I thank the Lord for two perfectly good teeth, one in my upper jaw and one in my lower jaw. And further that they match so that I can chew my food.”
Humility has little to do with self deprecation, that is, it has little to do with having a low opinion of oneself, and everything to do with having a right understanding of who we are compared to who He is. Humility is about living fully in the recognition that all that I have, all that am, all that I may ever hope to attain, become, achieve, or do is ultimately the gift of God’s grace.