The difference between generosity and gratitude…

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Psalm 50: 7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak,
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house,
or goats from your folds.
10 For every wild animal of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the air,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and all that is in it is mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Here the Lord is not taking issue with Israel’s practice of animal sacrifice, which is required by the Mosaic law. It’s the spirit of those sacrifices that God finds objectionable. V.9-11 states the obvious – that God does not need the animals being sacrificed to survive. V.12 says it well:

“If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine.”

Apparently people had begun making sacrifices as if they were doing God a favor, providing for God’s need. It gave glory to the giver rather than to God. So what does God want? Here is verse 14:

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving…”

The key question is, “To whom does my sacrifice/offering belong in the first place?” If I understand my offering as “mine” then I am the generous one doing God a favor – which is the mindset that is challenged in this psalm. However, if my offering begins as a gift from God to me, then what I give back to God isn’t an act of benevolence or generosity, but gratitude. God is the one who gets the glory, not me.

Heavenly Father, gives us hearts of gratitude that give praise to the One from whom all blessings flow. Amen.

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