Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pay No Attention To The Person Over the Back Fence

But the people refused to hearken unto the voice of Samuel; and they said: 'Nay; but there shall be a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; 1 Samuel 8:20 (Jewish Publication Society) 
It would seem that a basic tenet of being human is the burning desire to be certain my neighbor isn't getting ahead of me.  Materialism has been rampant in our culture since at least the 1950's.  If the next door neighbors got a new television, you could be pretty sure my sister and I would badger my parents until we got one too.  Same with cars, washing machines, dishwashers, and a varied host of everything else under the sun.  

The elders of Israel had the same problem.  They were delivered safely into the
Promised Land and then they began looking around at their neighbors and said, "Hey!  They have a king!"  They went to Samuel and said, "We want a king!  Kings are mighty.  Kings protect us. Everybody else has one.  We look stupid without a king."  Samuel told them a king would take their children for his service, that a king would exact a high tax and they would all become slaves to the king's wishes.  The elders were so blinded by the glories of the neighboring kings that they could not be bothered with reason.  Samuel relented and gave them the king they desired.  Samuel's prophecy came to pass exactly as predicted.  God was disappointed in their lack of faith in Him.  God's disappointment did not matter.

It raises a question for us: are we too busy looking over the fence at what we don't have to appreciate the abundance we have already been given?  Is it not an arrogant ungratefulness that tosses what we have aside to relentlessly pursue something we perceive as better?  Are we ever guilty of in essence saying, "God is not enough; I demand more!"  

Respecting God's benevolent hand is at the center of a humble heart.  Respecting God to give us what we need when we need it requires a strong spiritual discipline to put aside the groping anxiety that we are not enough in others' eyes.  A humble spirit cares more whether we are living out of gratitude for God's central place, than keeping a crazed irrational tally of what someone else has. We read yesterday that God supplies us with the "unsearchable riches of Christ."  Perhaps one of the reasons we are so woefully discontented with what we have is that we have truly not searched our hearts and spirits for what Christ has done, is doing, and wants to do for us?  What unsearchable riches are already yours in Christ that you are overlooking?

Dearest God, forgive us for not placing sufficient faith in you and the bounty you give.  Help us search the depths of your infinite love and be content with the abundance you supply daily.  Give us our daily bread.  Amen.

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