Once again the holiday season has rolled around and people are saying, “Where did the year go?” Already the stores are beginning to be filled with Christmas decorations, children are wondering what they will find under the tree, and Mom and Dad are wondering how they will pay for it. These days Thanksgiving is basically a pre-season holiday, something you do to get in shape for Christmas. We eat, we sleep, we shop, we watch football, and we don’t stop until January.

That’s a shame because the act of giving thanks is one thing that separates man from the animals. To receive a gift and say, “Thank you,” is one of the politest things a person can do. There is nothing small or trivial about it. To say “Thank you” is to acknowledge that we have been given something we did not earn and do not deserve. Happy is the man who understands that all of life is a gift from God and that life itself is the ultimate gift. Which is why the Bible says, “In everything give thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) When we can’t do anything else, we can always be grateful. As someone has said, “If you can’t be thankful for what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped.”

In Psalm 131 David uncovers an important value for us to consider:

 HUMILITY: “O Lord, my heart is not conceited. My eyes do not look down on others. I am not involved in things too big or too difficult for me.” It’s always tricky to talk about humility. How do you know when you’re truly humble? Come to think of it, if you are truly humble, will you even know it? It has been well said that humility is the virtue which, when you think you have it, you’ve lost it.

 Let’s be very honest with ourselves on this point. We live in a culture that puts a very low value on humility. They don’t give out merit badges for humility. From the moment we enter the world we are urged to get ahead, to climb the ladder, to look out for number one, to win through intimidation, and to prove our success by the car we drive, by the home we buy, by the clothes we wear, and by the friends we keep.

 David went on to describe humility in terms of how he looked at his own limitations. “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” The Living Bible says, “I don’t pretend to be a ‘know it all’.” David is saying, “There are many things in the universe that are far beyond my meager ability to understand. I don’t worry about those things and I don’t try to figure them out.”

 Humility in this context simply means that you don’t run the world, you don’t have all the answers, you know your limits. That last one is a hard one for some people—the idea that you have limits. It’s sort of a trendy, New Age-type idea to talk about unlimited potential and the untapped resources within. The truth is, our potential is very limited and the only untapped resources are the ones we discover when we come to the end and admit that we are limited but God is not.

 SIMPLICITY: 2 Instead, I have kept my soul calm and quiet. My soul is content as a weaned child is content in its mother’s arms. The picture is one only a mother can fully understand. A child is born and for a long time he looks to his mother’s breast as the source of his nourishment. Breakfast, lunch and supper all come from the same place. When he is hungry, he cries and Mom knows exactly what to do. Her milk satisfies him and back to sleep he goes.

 Here is the truth: Unless a mother weans her child, he will never grow up. He’ll be a baby all the days of his life. Though it may seem hard, if a mother truly loves her child, she will not stop until the job is fully done. When the job is finally done, the child no longer begs for that which it once found indispensable. Once he could not live without his mother’s milk; now he no longer needs it. To be weaned is to have something removed from your life which you thought you couldn’t live without. David is saying, “I’ve come to the place where the things I thought I had to have, I don’t need anymore. Now my soul is quiet and content.”

 Most of us live on the opposite principle. We figure our contentment on the basis of how many of our needs are met. Unfortunately, it’s hard to reach a place where all our needs are constantly met. By that standard, it’s hard to ever really be content. If contentment is measured by how much of the world’s goods you possess, who can ever say, “I have enough.

 How does God go about weaning us from our dependence on the things of the world? First, he makes the things of the world bitter to us. Second, he removes one by one the things on which we depend. Third, he gives us something better. In the end, we find that we no longer need the things we used to think we couldn’t do without. And our walk with God is stronger than ever before.

 INTEGRITY: Israel, put your hope in the Lord now and forever. The word “hope” in Hebrew means first to wait, then to wait expectantly. The concept is very close to our English word “confidence.” Another definition would be “to wait on something because you know the thing you are waiting for will happen because the person you are waiting on is trustworthy.”

 David says, “You have a choice to make. Either you choose to live like everyone else or you choose to wait on the Lord.” Once a child is weaned, the apron strings have been cut. The child comes to rest on his mother’s lap not because he wants something but because he wants to be near his mother. In the same way, God weans us from our dependence on the things of this world so that we will not be bribed into trusting him. What credit is it if you trust God because you have a mate, a house, a job, a happy home, a secure future, and good health? What will you do when you lose your mate, your job, your home, your family, your security, your reputation, your connections, and your health? When life tumbles in, what then?

 That’s what integrity is all about. It’s choosing to put your confidence in God alone. It’s believing that he has answers to questions you can barely understand. It’s coming to the place where you don’t measure your spirituality by your prosperity. It’s finding rest in your soul because you discover that the things you used to crave aren’t so important anymore.

 Let’s be thankful not only for the things we have but also for the things we no longer have to have. And let the people of God hope in the Lord both now and forever. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from the Todd Family.

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