Clif and I were out with friends last weekend and got home later than we’d planned. And according to our dogs who’d been waiting for their evening snack, it was well past their normal feeding time. Tired from the evening, I asked one of the kids to take care of that job for me while I tended to a couple of other tasks to shut down the house before heading to bed. Now, I wasn’t expecting joyful gratitude for the opportunity to scoop and serve kibbles to the four scruffy-faced canines that share our house, but in this instance, quiet compliance would do. But instead, my simple request was met with indigence, punctuated with an audible huff, and deliberate stomping across the hardwoods.
Since I was tired and not in the right frame of mind to calmly deal with that kind of display, I launched into a 5+ minute lecture focusing on the many wonderful things that, as part of our family, this kid was a beneficiary of, and how the best way to show gratitude and thankfulness would be to help out and be willing to do what we ask, even when it’s not necessarily a favorite job to do.
After I’d cooled down and gotten some distance from the situation, I thought through the scene with a little more detached mindset, and couldn’t help but wonder if this incident wasn’t very similar to how we as believers often act toward God.
The New Testament is filled with simple and clear commands describing what is right and acceptable behavior for those who follow God. For example, Romans 13 says to submit ourselves to the governing authorities (vs 1), Galatians 5 instructs us to “serve one another humbly in love” (vs 13), Colossians 3 challenges us to live pure lives by “putting to death …immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed” and James 1 is clear that we should “look after orphans and widows.” Yet how many of us bristle at anything that might get in the way of our plans and stiffen with resistance when those instructions cause us to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable. How much it must ache the heart of God to see our immaturity and thanklessness!
While ‘good works’ are never the means by which we earn acceptance and love from the Lord, they are definitely concrete ways that we can demonstrate our gratitude for what He has already done for us by adopting us into his family and blessing “us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 1:3, 5)
There are a lot of wonderful things we are invited to do in serving God that make us feel good and bring personal satisfaction, but just like in the incident with my kid, there are times that we can best say “thank you” to the Lord with an obedient heart and a submissive “yes” to whatever He asks and then just follow through and “go feed the dog.”
“… but I do as the Father has commanded me,
so that the world may know that I love the Father.” ~ John 14:31