Friday, June 27, 2008

Enjoying Life

If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you . . . (Deut. 28:47-48a).

One great revelation in this verse is that having an abundance of benefits doesn’t automatically bring joy! Well . . . maybe for a short while, when one receives a new blessing. But then taking for granted sets in. “It’s not quite what I wanted” and “It’s not as good as my neighbor’s” takes over. And so we can be loaded with benefits but feel as if we have very little.

I guess the principle is: APPRECIATE IT OR LOSE IT. Without appreciation, we will lose it, even if we still have it. We will not experience the joy of it. Not only that, we will begin to be enslaved by the enemy of disappointment and discontentment.

Upon looking at the consequence in verse 48 for taking God’s benefits for granted, one might think he is severe. But God, unlike us, never overreacts. By warning us that there will be consequences for taking our blessings for granted, God corrals our attitudes in the direction of appreciation and joy. We would do well as parents to imitate him by teaching our children to be thankful for and to be responsible in the care of the gifts we give them; by teaching them to respect us as providers of their livelihood. There would be fewer of us throwing up our hands in despair because our children are demanding, never contented, and largely uncooperative.

Joy and enthusiasm are a choice. Actually, joy is automatic—but only if one first chooses to be appreciative. An appreciative person will make a point of thanking God (and others involved) for favors and blessings. An appreciative person recognizes that he is fortunate to have received them. An appreciative person will counteract feelings of discontent by reminding herself of all that is good in her life. Appreciation requires a little effort at the offset, but ends up in sheer delight—and in great willingness to do anything for the Giver.

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