As the offering plate passed, Nancy tossed in her envelope—but not willingly. What she had once easily and joyfully given now stung when it left her hand. Life had taken a sour turn and snatched her happiness with it. Two kids and a full-time job consumed her time. The husband who once loved her decided he wanted a younger version and no responsibilities to match. As she placed her money in the plate, all she could think of was how she needed it to clothe and feed her children and put gas in her car. She hated to admit it, but she often thought about grabbing it back—or not even giving it in the first place.
The psalm’s author is anonymous, but if it happened to be David, he was no stranger to sacrifice and heartache. His military faithfulness was rewarded with jealousy from an emotionally disturbed king who hunted him down as he would have a criminal. Incest infected his family. He was even betrayed by his own son who ran him out of town and stole his mistresses to boot. In spite of his troubles—some self-inflicted and some not, David was able to offer a joyful sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.
Thanksgiving may be a sacrifice I can offer, but no one ever said sacrificing would be inherently easy or joyful. Only as I understand that God is in control of my life’s situations and is working them for my benefit can I in turn offer him joyful sacrifices. When I question his motives or his power to turn around my circumstances, my sacrifice will be more difficult to make—if I make it at all. Even if I do, my motives will probably be questionable at best. Giving with joy is easy when I remember God’s unconditional love for me and that he always has my best interests at heart. Harming me is never on his mind.
Are you giving God your sacrifices with a joyful spirit?
Father, we offer You the sacrifice of praise with a joyful heart.