Monday, January 13, 2014

Are You Smarter than a Donkey?

No, I wasn't buying the stuffed bird for her with my money, no matter how cute, how fluffy, and how female it was.  And no, she didn't have any money left, so this wasn't up for discussion.  Period.

My five year old daughter's face screwed up in a serious pout when I pulled from her grasp the disputed red sphere (complete with yellow bow and dark black eyelashes) and stuffed it back on the shelf.  As if on cue, out popped the lower lip, down, down, DOWN went the corners of her mouth, and those large brown eyes glistened with confirmation of how upset she was.

Unlike the boys who continued to be indecisive in their spending of what monies they earned from the selling of a few unused toys before Christmas, my daughter had already spent every last cent of her earnings, all within two weeks' time.  Granted, what she wanted cost more (a "pony house" for her Oma & Opa-gifted American Girl doll and horse), but still, she was flat broke and finding it was hard to watch her brothers shop without being able to buy anything, herself.

This mother, though, wasn't having having it.  Fresh off an extraordinarily blessed Christmas full of much more than my daughter either needed or deserved, I demanded she tuck that lip back in and better not cry.   Right in the middle of Walgreens, I explained how her attitude showed how ungrateful her heart was.

Ingratitude.  It's one of the things that grates most on this parent's nerves.  Perhaps that's because it is something I find myself fighting against with ever fiber of my being.  In our "more, more" culture, I strive to be content with what is and not what could be.

What's more, I have learned how offensive ingratitude is to the Lord.

The Lord says of Israel: "Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand....They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged" (Is. 1:2-3, 4b).

The ox and the donkey are not the smartest of animals.  In fact, they're just plain dumb.

As Matthew Henry says, they are "not only brute creatures, but of the dullest sort; yet the ox has such a sense of duty as to know his owner and to serve him, to submit to his yoke and to draw in it; the ass has such a sense of interest as to know has master’s crib, or manger, where he is fed, and to abide by it; he will go to that of himself if he be turned loose."*

In short, these two dumb creatures know (1) how to submit to their Creator and (2) Who provides for them.

Yet, in the above verses, the nation of Israel is condemned because of its failure to do what comes naturally to God's most base creatures--(1) submit to God as Master of them as their Creator and (2) give thanks to God for His constant provisions.

Insubordination and Ingratitude. 

We don't like to take on any yoke, even if God says, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:30).  We want to live like children in a fantasy world of freedom where we're not subordinate to anyone, where we are always free to do as we wish, not owing anyone for anything because everything we have is ours from our own labors.

Such fantasies are just that--make-believe fairy tales.  No matter how we try to deny it, we are forever indebted to God as our Creator.  If we choose to not serve Him, that just means we're serving someone/something else.  Total freedom is simply not an option.  And no matter how much we must labor for our provisions, He is still the ultimate provider of all.

Submission, gratitude, and thankfulness don't come naturally; they must be an intentional daily pursuit.  Yet, as with most habits, the more we practice, the more second nature it becomes.

What better time to start developing those good habits than today.

*Matthew Henry Complete Commentary

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