“How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?” Psalm 116:12
This week is Laurie’s birthday and I have mixed feelings about the celebrations. Don’t get me wrong! I’m excited about celebrating the happiness that she has brought to my life and others through the person God has made her to be as a wife, a mother, a friend, a pastor’s wife, a teacher, a person. I’ve got some fun things planned for the celebrations. I just hope that Laurie experiences today the happiness that she gives to so many others throughout the year. That’s the easy part of the celebrations.
But how do I give a gift that expresses my happiness. I’m anxious about finding the right birthday gift to give her. She has graciously endured my feeble attempts at gift-giving. It’s not because she’s ungrateful of the gifts I give her. No! She’s just so good at giving gifts. She’s thoughtful and sensitive to people…their personalities and their likes….always well-planned. She always gives perfect gifts. So, I’m a bit intimidated because I lack that sensitivity and thoughtfulness. Nonetheless, Laurie is always appreciative when I take the time and effort to give her a gift.
The Psalmist has found an answer to the question about the right gift to give in response to God’s goodness. He asks and answers that question in Psalm 116:12f. The first gift he gives God is the gift of personal praise (vs. 13). He personally lifts the “cup of salvation”—one of the four cups lifted in the observance of the Passover—and turns to God in faith and thanksgiving. Take some time to offer your personal praise to God today. A good start is praying this Psalm of praise purposefully, passionately, reverently.
The second gift he gives God is the gift of “public praise” (vs. 14, 17-19). The Psalmist is not shy about acknowledging God “in the presence of his people” while in the “courts of the house of the LORD.” When was the last time you shared a witness of thanks with your spouse, family, friends, or small group? Have you recently taken advantage of telling of God’s goodness by presenting your testimony of thanks in worship? Sharing with others your gratitude for all that God has done is not only a gift to God but also to others.
The third gift the Psalmist gives God is the gift of “surrendered praise” (vs. 15-16). Because God joyfully receives those who live for him, the Psalmist gives himself as an obedient servant to God. He surrenders his life to God out of thankfulness to all that God has done. It’s good to praise God personally and publicly, but it’s even better to praise God through our obedience: following God’s will when it’s hard, refusing to sin when tempted, putting God first instead of ourselves. That’s true thanks!
When we take time to remember all that God has done (Psalm 116:1-11) it leads us to say thank you with our lips and our lives. Tell God “thank you.” Better yet…show God your thanks.
P.S. I started by giving Laurie the gift of flowers! That’s always been a good place to begin with her.