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Have Not? Look Up and Give Thanks

Psalm 2 opens with a pertinent question, especially for our age: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?”

Something’s missing and everyone senses it. We rage, we imagine. What’s imagined, however, fails to satisfy. The music tells us as much…

“I can’t get no satisfaction. ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try.” So went an old rock and roll anthem from the 1960s. The chorus churned on and on and on and blared from radios and record players. The song was a million seller. Why? Because it touched a deep, bitter root that lurks in the nature of man.

Kings and rulers talk and frame laws; they erect fences and cobble together programs in an effort to establish an atmosphere of well-being. These efforts do bring some seasons of tranquility. But trouble always bubbles just beneath the surface.

That One Tree

There are elements of humanity that trigger outbursts. James said it well, “You lust, and you have not … you fight and war, yet you have not” (James 4:2).

Simply, the “have not” part of life can get the best of us. And it has been this way almost from the beginning. Adam and Eve were placed in Eden, a garden dense with trees, both beautiful and fruitful. They were good for food and great to behold. All but one of these trees, made to grow from the ground by God, was there for them to enjoy.

They were in paradise. Why weren’t they satisfied? Well, there was that one tree — the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eat from it, warned the Lord, and the result would be death.

The 'have not' part of life can get the best of us. And it has been this way almost from the beginning. Click To Tweet

This tree didn’t belong to Adam and Eve. They knew it, and the serpent knew it, too. The devil employed his subtlety to prey upon them. In particular, this snake slithered about Eve and poked her with questions and challenges.

The tree was wonderful in appearance, ripe for picking, good for food. How could something so pleasant and fruitful be off limits?

This tree was off limits because God said so. That’s it. This is all the explanation we get in the book of Genesis.

The Lord made a clear statement: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17-18).

The Answer of Thankfulness

At a point, Eve became overwhelmed with occupation over the piece of her world that she could not have. She turned from all that she could have, from all that she could freely eat, and she reached for the fruit, the taste of which changed everything for her, for Adam, and for all of us.

Just a bit of trust and thankfulness was needed there and then. If Eve and Adam could have just taken note of all that was theirs and revealed a bit of gratitude, then disaster could have been averted.

Let's live in the fulfillment we have in our oneness and wholeness with Christ. Click To Tweet

Let’s be careful in our evaluation of Adam and Eve. We are prone to these same attitudes. We can and do question what God has given us and where God has put us.

What we need is a heart of gladness, a heart after God, a heart that rejoices in the mercy and grace He gives us day after day. And the only way we get this kind of heart is by hearing and receiving the Word of God.

A Sound Heart

Proverbs 14:30 says, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.”

Envy represents a powerful, implosive force that seeks not only to possess, but also to destroy. It is the rage of the heathen appetite. It is cruel and not so unusual self-punishment. It eats people up.

A sound heart, however, is a heart that sings the words of Psalm 136:1-3:

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

When we’re tempted to look at what’s not ours, let’s choose to delight in what is ours, like the mercy that’s new every morning, and give thanks for the great things that God has done for us.

Let’s live in the fulfillment we have in our oneness and wholeness with Christ. We are hid with Christ in God, sealed unto redemption by the Holy Spirit.

This is ours. This is who we are. Let us give thanks.

For more on thankfulness and the Word of God, please watch this message preached recently at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.

 

Steve Andrulonis

Steve Andrulonis

Spent more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before entering full-time ministry in 2006. He assists the Senior Pastor of Greater Grace, helps manages church services, coordinates the Grace Hour radio broadcast, and teaches at Maryland Bible College and Seminary.
Steve Andrulonis

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