Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Is It

What Is It
Jan 31, 2011
Exodus 16:15 "When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was . . ."

There is an old expression that goes something like this: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." A horse, years back, was as valuable to humans as a super computer is today. A horse was very, very useful for a productive lifestyle. You could pull a plow or a carriage with a horse; you could ride a horse for many miles. In short, a horse made life so much easier, unless that horse was old and worn out. Then it was good for nothing. This is where the old expression, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth," comes from. You could tell the age of a horse, and therefore the value of a horse, by looking in its mouth at its teeth. The expression suggests if someone gives you a horse as a gift, don't try to place a value on it by figuring out it's age, just accept the gift.

This expression gives us a small lesson in gratitude. It suggests we should be thankful when presented with a gift, a gift that we did not necessarily deserve or earn. The Israelites had a hard time with this lesson, and never actually learned it. Recall when the Israelites left slavery behind in the land of the Egyptians and followed Moses through the desert. There was no place to grow crops in the desert or even raise livestock, so the Lord provided them with sustenance. God provided them with Manna. No one knows what Manna actually was, but the word Manna literally translates to mean "what is it." The Israelites had never seen Manna and didn't know what it was, though they did know it could be eaten and that it provided nourishment. But instead of calling it by a name that could have meant, "the provision of God," or "bounty from heaven," or "food of blessing," they called it "what is it." Their declaration in naming it was akin to looking a gift horse in the mouth. Had they been truly thankful for the gift, which they did not deserve or earn, they should have called it "Jehovah Tsayid," which means "food/provision from the Lord," or more literally translated "God-food."

The Israelites continued in their refusal to be thankful and grateful to God by complaining about their God-Food. They whined and begged God for something else, something different. Instead of accepting the gift in humility, they complained about it. In reading this history, we can learn from the Israelites' mistakes. We can choose to turn our nose up at the provision of God or we can choose to accept the gift with humility and be thankful, thankful for however the gift presents itself, especially if we do not deserve it and did not earn it. There are so many areas in our lives where we have been taken care of by the provision of God, yet we find reason to complain. Or we find reason to simply not give thanks for what God has done. We look at what we have and place a value on it in comparison to what others have. We look the gift horse in the mouth instead of being grateful for it. This is insulting to the Lord and does nothing to garner good will from the Head of the Universe. In fact, the fastest way to have something taken from you is by complaining about it.

This is your chance to look at what has been placed in your life and make a concerted effort to be grateful. This is your chance to see the gift in front of you and simply receive it, not analyze it, not critique it, not complain about it but simply receive it. God has given you so much and this is your opportunity to call it what it is, Jehovah Tsayid. God has given you gifts, gifts you did not deserve or earn. Be thankful and keep the blessing by not looking the gift horse in the mouth. After all, you could have less, that's for sure.

1. What is in your life that you are tempted to complain about?
2. How can you see what is in your life as a gift from God?
3. Taken a moment to express gratitude to God for what He has provided.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 22:13-14, Ex 16

1 comment:

Baby So Smart said...

Excellent! Appreciate this point, so good to be reminded of my need to be thankful for all the Lord has provided me with.