11.06.11 Reflections on Spiritual Thanksgiving, Psalm 65 & Matthew 6.24-34
Want to start the journey towards a healthy spirituality and a content life? Begin to practice gratitude. These passages show us how.
Jesus’ most famous sermon, and one of the teachings that establishes his position as a wise religious leader, is found in this passage from Matthew 6. Here Jesus contrasts two paths (very Jewish of him): one governed by worry, and the other governed by faith. And he defines “faith” as essentially “seeking first God’s kingdom.”
To make his point, Jesus offers the example of the birds who do not sow, reap, or hoard, yet God provides for them. He also offers the flowers of the field, which are beautiful without laboring to be so. Jesus, like any other wisdom preacher, directs our sights to creation, to the acknowledgement of divine providence. When we recognize divine providence, “all these things will be added to us as well.”
Psalm 65 gives us some insight into what Jesus is saying. It is a harvest psalm, directing our attention to the many ways God’s presence and power are revealed to us in creation. What may appear to casual observers as the natural course of things, the eyes of faith find God’s providence in the rain and the growth and harvest of crops. Such people will respond to God’s providence with thanksgiving. They will make and fulfill their vows to God (verse 1). These are the initial steps towards healthy spirituality and contentment in life:
- Recognizing God’s providence
- Giving thanks in an intentional, active, and public way, that is, making and keeping vows
When we do this, when we consider the birds and the flowers in the field, when we recognize God’s providence and give thanks, Jesus says “all these things will be added to us as well.” In other words, thanksgiving leads to abundance. The reason is because when we are faithful in a little bit, God knows we will be faithful with more (Matthew 25:29).
Let us have faith by seeing God’s providence and actively giving thanks. Then we will start the journey towards spiritual health and contentment in life.