Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, (ESV)
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits- (NIV)
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. (NLT)
November: the month of thanksgiving and gratitude. Completely void of envy and jealousy… right?
This month, we find ourselves in the sixth installment of our Vices and Virtues series, landing on the theme of Envy and gratitude. If this timing doesn’t make sense, the other themes probably won’t either... It's the month of Thanksgiving! Gratitude is hard to practice, even when we have a holiday to remind us. So, let’s discover what Scripture has to say about gratefulness and how the devil seeks to tempt us away from finding freedom in it through the vice of envy.
Over the next four weeks, we will discover how grateful reflection leads to joy even amidst trial, how thankfulness can bring about peace, explore the destructive and deadly journey of envy taken by King Saul, and finally, we will be reminded of how a life rooted in Christ ultimately leads to lasting freedom.
365 Reasons To Be Thankful
I recently heard this story about a man whose life was a complete mess. He was depressed, broke, overweight, and had just been divorced for the second time. He lived in a hot climate with no air conditioning. He was a business owner and couldn’t afford to pay his employees their Christmas bonus because clients weren’t paying the business on time. Talk about struggling. This guy had every reason to throw in the towel.
Something switched in this man’s brain on New Year's Day when he was on a hike. With the hope of improving his life, he resolved to write a thank you note every day for the whole year. Even in his extremely rough circumstances, the man found something to be thankful for every single day that year. He has since gone on to write a book about his experience, and to this day, he has written over 2,000 thank-you notes.
As far as I know, this man is not a follower of Jesus. He doesn’t even know the hundreds of reasons we can be grateful to God for. How much more is there to be thankful for as people who are in Christ? Gratitude is counter-cultural, not just to the broad culture but even amongst Christians. It seems so against the grain to acknowledge our gratitude. Envy and discontentment seem to be way more obvious and easy to reflect on.
To Worship & Remember
We worship what we give our attention to. When we give our attention to the things around us, the people around us, what they have, and what we don’t have, we begin to worship what we possess and even ourselves. When we get stuck in the consumerism cycle, we look everywhere and buy anything we can get our hands on, thinking we need it to be happy. But when we get that “thing,” we realize four new shiny things we now need to be happy. This relentless cycle spirals us down a path of deep levels of insecurity and desperation.
If you haven’t figured it out already, we weren’t created to worship created things. (Romans 1) We were made for something more than our dream car, dream house, dream career, or even dream relationship. The Lord is the only thing adequate for our worship because He is beyond any created thing; He is the Creator. He is worthy of our worship. When we give our attention to God in worship, we recognize how great He really is and cultivate a heart of gratitude for what He has done for us.
Psalm of Remembrance
When we look at our verse for this week, we see David begin Psalm 103 by stirring up his own soul to praise God. This is a practice for David because he recognizes the drifting nature of our hearts. We oftentimes have radical mountaintop experiences with God, only to go a few days and forget they even happened or even discredit them. We can feel God’s presence, love, and goodness so near and then get thrown off by an unexpected expense that throws off the budget. Just like David, we must recognize if we don’t have a way to remember God’s benefits, our hearts will forget.
This is a place where we will continually find ourselves on a spiritual journey with God. As we grow with Him, we must bring our hearts back to the center over and over as new seasons bring up new temptations to walk towards envy or become negative-minded. The character of God is pure, and the reasons to praise Him are everlasting. Even though the seasons of our lives are constantly changing, we must remember that God and His word never will. I mean, just look at the description of who God is to us…
“Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
These are reasons to be grateful. These are things we want to sink deep in our souls.
Written by Ben Hesch
Challenge: I encourage you to press into gratitude and fight envy through worship this week, and invite you to listen to 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) to cultivate a heart of grateful reflection.