Pastoral 2012

Memories And Obligations!

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 01 January 2012

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As I ponder on the conclusion of 2011, I am overwhelmed by a sense of deep obligation to God. This is especially so, when I consider how undeserving and wretched I am before His holy presence. He has been so good, and so magnanimous! The memories of God’s wondrous help throughout the last year are immensely awesome! I bow my head low before His exalted throne in thankful praise. Brethren, you too must bring your tribute to God with thanksgiving.

What shall I render unto the LORD
for all His benefits toward me?
I will take the cup of salvation,
and call upon the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows unto the LORD
now in the presence of all His people.
(Psalm 116:12-14)

The desire to appropriately acknowledge all the benefits from God is a sign of a consecrated, godly heart. Thanksgiving and worship are the peculiar activities of a godly heart. But a heart tainted by self, pride and other sins loses its ability to appropriately respond to God for all His benefits. To perceive and appreciate our benefits necessitates a very refined soul.

Humiliation of deep gratitude

What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me? These words of the Psalmist express his deep-felt humiliation as he recollected all the goodness that the LORD lavished on him.

If we were to take time to truly consider all of God’s goodness towards us, we will soon be overwhelmed with the enormity of gratitude we owe Him. This sense of humiliation deepens to an awful state when we realise that we have done so little to render our thanks to Him. O what great debt of gratitude we owe Him! What great debtors we are to God!

What gift of thanksgiving can adequately express our indebtedness to His innumerable benefits towards us? Only a truly thankful soul would think of this unthinkable obligation it has to God. It is a holy obligation to think of our eternal indebtedness to God for all His benefits! It will keep our soul in a proper attitude of humility and worship before God.

Highest expressions of deepest gratitude

Contemplative worship

“I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.” While the psalmist in deep humiliation contemplated on his endless obligation to the Lord, his soul happily fixed its focus on the highest gift of all that God has lavished upon him. “The cup of salvation!” The child of God is thankful for every blessing he received from the LORD as he takes up the cup of salvation given to him. O what sublime and eternal spiritual privileges and blessings flow over from the cup of salvation!

No privilege is greater to a saved soul than the right to call on the name of the LORD in worship. The ultimate purpose of our salvation is that we will be eternal worshippers of His name. So when we worship with thankful hearts, we fulfil the purpose for which we are created and redeemed; and thus we render the highest form of tribute to God. There is no greater expression of gratitude than to worshipfully call on Him.

We need no other reason for worship, for we have been bestowed with the greatest gift, even our salvation. Can there be any other greater bestowment of His grace than the salvation we have received?

We must take up what God has given to us in grateful contemplation. Then our hearts will hasten to worship Him. If we take up what we have already been given by the LORD, especially our salvation, we will not be dull of worship. Contemplative worship will leads to exuberant praise of God’s holy name.

Performance of vows

“I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all His people.” True religion is marked by voluntary commitments made to God in thanksgiving. Such worshipful vows are taught in the Scriptures both by commands and examples.

For instance, Deuteronomy 6:13 commands us that, “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His Name” (cf. Deuteronomy 10:20; Psalm 63:11). In Psalm 76:11, we read, “Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God.” It is in harmony with such divine instruction that the Psalmist said that he will pay his vows unto the LORD.

The Westminster Confession of Faith teaches us that “a lawful oath is part of religious worship, wherein, upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calls God to witness what he asserts, or promises, and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he swears” (WCF, Chapter 22, Section 1). In fact, God wants us to take His Name and avow ourselves to Him. It's a way of praising Him and proclaiming our allegiance to Him. It also shows that we are committed to His glory. Hence an oath is an act of supreme religious worship.

As a deeply grateful worshipper, the psalmist was resolved to pay his vows immediately. Hence the words: “I will pay my vows . . . now.” It is important that we must not slack in performing that which we have pledged before God in thanksgiving and worship of His great name.

Not to perform our vows to God is indicative of once disdain for God’s great and holy name. A worshipper who slack to perform his vows is a false worshipper. So we are warned in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”

Conclusion

As one year ends, and another begins, let us recollect the Lord’s goodness and worship Him for all His mercies, particularly for the salvation blessings which Christ, our LORD, has bestowed upon us. Come before Him with deep gratitude.

As true worshippers, let us resolve to perform all the promises we have made to Him in the last year without any delay. At the same time, let us joyfully and sincerely avow ourselves to our God.