By Shawn McMullen
Hezekiah was a good king who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Chronicles 29:2, English Standard Version). He wasn’t a perfect king, however.
Second Chronicles 32:24-26 tells the story.
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death, and he prayed to the lord, and he answered him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
Eventually he repented of his error, but for a time Hezekiah lived ungratefully before God, virtually ignoring the kindness God showed to him by saving him from certain death. It’s a strong indictment: Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him. Instead of responding to God’s mercy with humility and gratitude, he allowed the good things God had done for him (his position, his power, his riches, and particularly his restored health) lead to pride and self-importance. During this time Hezekiah’s “rate of return” was exceedingly low.
I wonder what God thinks about my rate of return? In light of the countless blessings he has poured out on me, my family, and the church I serve, would he say I’m making return according to the benefit done to me?
I’m thankful God’s love is a constant in my life. He doesn’t love me more or less based on the number of good deeds I perform or the amount of work I do for him. He simply loves me. Still, I wonder if the gratitude I show him is in any way proportionate to the blessings I have received from him. No amount of gratitude I’ll display will ever equal the blessings I’ve received. But that should not keep me from displaying an appropriate amount of gratitude and thanksgiving to God.
Have you ever asked the question? Based on the benefits you have received from God, do you think he is pleased with your rate of return?
Is it reflected in your prayer life? Do you thank God regularly for the health, strength, and protection he provides? Do you thank him for the many unpleasant things that could have happened in your life, but didn’t?
Is it reflected in your worship? Do the words you sing merely come from a projector or a hymnbook, or do they come from your heart? Is your celebration of the Lord’s Supper a time of distraction, or devotion?
Is it reflected in your attitude? Do you give yourself credit for what you have accomplished, or do you realize you’ve accomplished nothing apart from God?
Is it reflected in your actions? “Whatever you do,” do you “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23, NIV)?
As we gather with family and friends this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s express—and live—our gratitude according to the benefit done to us.