But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.
Last Christmas, Janet created a seasonal floral arrangement and gave it to a neighbor. Several days later, the neighbor responded with a gift to show her gratitude. That exchange caused me to think about the motivation for giving.
My wife’s incentive for giving to our neighbor was kindness. Nothing was expected in return.
The reciprocal gift from the neighbor was motivated by appreciation. Sometimes those “back-at-you” gifts are offered from a feeling of obligation. You did something nice for me, therefore I must do something to repay the favor.
Another type of obligatory giving occurs on special occasions when we scour the malls or the internet attempting to find suitable gifts for those on a list. Sometimes we hit the mark with these “guess-what-they-want” gifts. When we fail there are eBay and yard sales for discarding the rejects.
There are many motivations for giving, but the greatest is love. The greater the love, the more thoughtful the gift. When we give to the people who mean most in our lives, giving means more than receiving.
But it’s also extraordinarily special to be on the receiving end of a love gift. You understand the heartfelt sentiment that went into it. The giver knows you better than anyone, wants to see your joyous reaction as you open your perfect gift.
The motivation for God’s gift to us is revealed in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” Jesus clarified the extent of that love when He said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
So when our 1 Samuel focus text tells us to “consider what great things he has done,” we must understand God’s great works in the light of His unconditional love.
But just as God gives good gifts to those He loves, the gratitude the Lord expects from us is rooted in the same motivation. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) If we love God with such fervency then our hearts will always be filled with genuine thanksgiving.
It is from sincere love and thanksgiving you can effectively “fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.”
Think for a moment about the people who mean the most to you. You treasure their relationships, couldn’t live without them. Just as you give love, they love in return. They give. You give.
I want to brag on my granddaughter a little. She has been my pride and joy ever since she came into the world. I love to give her gifts. She’s too young to have a job, therefore she can’t buy me gifts in return. But her sweet spirit, love, and heartfelt gratitude always make me feel as if I have received more than I’ve given. When I give to my wife or my sons, I feel the same way.
Now let’s go back to the opening words of our focus text. “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart…” To fear God is to give Him respect, to revere His supreme authority. This fear is not motivated by dread — but by honor. And we are to serve Him faithfully from the heart, which brings us back to love. The directive in 1 Samuel 12:24 comes naturally for those who truly love the Lord. It’s giving that means more than receiving.
For more on this topic, check out this article: The Lord Is the Supreme Gift Giver
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.