The Illusion of Autonomy
In Psalm 50, Asaph describes a courtroom scene with God bursting forth as a mighty Judge. God calls on the heavens and the earth to gather around and be witnesses of His judgment. His people had sinned against Him, and it was time for God to pronounce His sentence.
What had they done? God first makes it clear that He is not judging them for the lack of sacrifices or burnt offerings, because they offered them continuously. Instead, God rebuked them for how they were offering them. He had a problem with their motives:
“I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills…If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine” (Ps. 50:9-10, 12).
God’s people thought they were doing Him a favor by offering their sacrifices. They believed that God was lacking in something that they could provide. They had forgotten that God owns everything, including their own offerings! They had forgotten their need for God and because of this, their motives in worship were impure.
So what were they missing? Verse 14 tells us:
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
God wanted them to recognize that anything they “offered” to Him was already His in the first place. He wanted their hearts to be thankful, not entitled, when they worshipped Him. He wanted them to realize their dependency on Him and not the other way around. God wants the same for you and me today.
In short, God desires our thankfulness. How can we begin to cultivate thanksgiving? In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of meditation. I think this practice can help us here as well. Here are four Scriptures that you can meditate on as you ask the Lord to cultivate thankfulness in your heart for who He is and what He has done:
“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” (James 1:17).
“Through him [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:5).
“Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).