What Shall I Render Unto the Lord?
A Proper Heart Response
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
Daily we ask this question in response to our appreciation of the Lord’s loving kindness on our behalf. We, like David once cried unto the Lord in our lowly, sinful hopeless state, and he heard us and delivered our soul from death, Adamic death. He heard us in our pain and applied the balm of Gilead to our wounded soul, and lifted us up to the plane of imputed perfection in Christ Jesus to ultimately become, if faithful, sons of God on the spirit plane.
What a grand opportunity the great God of the universe has extended to us. Not only did he made the ultimate sacrifice of his son so that we and the world might have life, but he offered to make us his son s bride and give us his nature. What a magnificent offer to someday be a member of the greatest company in the universe, after God and Christ. Contemplate our future as described in Psa. 45:17: “I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever, should make us realize that even now we are one of the “Blessed that dwell in thy house” and that now and forever we will be of those “still praising thee” (Psa. 84:4). It is almost too much to believe or comprehend, and were it not for the countless assurances that the Father has given us on almost every page of scripture, it would be beyond belief.
“What shall I render unto the Lord,” therefore should be the natural response of every consecrated child. But what to give in return for the gifts bestowed on us is the great question.
If we had a great financial benefactor whom we wished to honor because of some great thing he had done for us, how would we go about it? Our first job would be to find out what would make him happy, what expression of thanks would best show our feelings of gratitude. We would first realize that we could never repay him adequately because we are not financially capable of it. And, if we were, then most likely would not have needed the help in the first place.
The Cup of Salvation
To David, a faithful Israelite and man after God’s own heart, God s presence and help were found in the temple and its associated services. It was the only way an Israelite might approach God and receive forgiveness and help (1 Kings 8). In the context of the temple services David sought to express his thankfulness to his God by inquiring what he should I render unto the Lord and the answer was “I will take the cup of salvation.”
What did David have in mind in this expression? Perhaps he had Leviticus 8 in mind where we see the consecration of the priests to the service of God. It meant an expression of full and complete consecration of being and will to the Lord service. For us the cup of salvation calls to mind the memorial supper. Here Christ chose the emblem of a cup to symbolize not only his sacrifice as a sin offering, but also our part in filling up that which is behind of his offering for the world: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” (See also Matt. 21:22.) To us it is a cup of death because only thereby can our salvation and the world’s be attained.
The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
We can see that in the cup of salvation, a vow is followed by a declaration of fulfillment. David vows to fulfil it in the presence of his people, here the nation of Israel. He almost seems to append something else to this primary vow a thank offering. It is termed a sacrifice of thanksgiving, but it is all part of the same original vow. A peace or thank offering was presented when an offerer wanted to give thanks for deliverance from sickness, as in Psalm 107; or when the heart was moved at the remembrance of God s mercies, as in Psalm 103; or as was the case in Psalm 116, in fulfillment of a vow. And how firm David was in his promise to carry out his vow of dedication. He will not do it in secret, but will actively and publicly proclaim his thanks in faith and works. “I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.”
Here David assumed a vow as an expression of thanks to God for his recent deliverance from trouble. As David’s vow was one of rededication to wholly follow the Lord; so it is with the consecrated, but on a much grander scale. Whereas David was vowing to serve God by wholly following the Law, the Christian vow of daily assuming consecration duties is not so clearly delineated since we are being trained for something far greater.
What vow of thanksgiving do we assume and how is it carried out in our daily lives? What sacrifices are we willing to give as a thank-offering to the Lord for the benefits we have received, for the Lord choosing us out of the myriads of humanity to be given his precious truths and be offered the opportunity of life on the highest plane of existence in order to bless the billions of our fellow human beings returned from the grave?
A Living Sacrifice
How can we repay such wonderful gifts? Our first duty is to search the scriptures to see what would make our Father happy? Proverbs 23:26 provides the answer for us: “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Romans 12:1 and 2 elaborates on this: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
The phrase “present your bodies” includes not only a primary presentation of ourselves in full consecration, but implies a continuation of the living sacrifice to the completion of our work. In our original vow of consecration we offered our all to the Lord and his service: all our time, our talents, our ambitions, and our fondest hopes and desires. We laid all of the altar. Since our sacrifice is a living sacrifice, there is a constant tendency for it to get up and try to regain our own will but we have covenanted to keep the sacrifice bound to the altar. This is an hourly and a daily struggle.
Every morning we present ourselves afresh to the Lord and ask his blessing that we may discern His will for us; therefore, it is a constant surrender of self-will and a daily waving of our offering before the Lord. It is not a grievous matter with us, but rather our daily delight, just as it was it our forerunner and example.
The peace offering was not only a voluntary sacrifice, it was a privilege rather than a duty to offer it. The feasts that were associated with it also had the characteristic of being cheerful and joyous occasions (1 Sam. 11:15). And this is also true of our peace offering to the Lord? What a daily feast we enjoy sitting at the feet of the master and daily learning of him: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”
The thank-offering is a daily renewal of our original consecration vows. True sanctification of the heart to the Lord means diligence in his service; a declaration of the good tidings to others; the building up of one another in the most holy faith. It also means that we do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially unto the household of faith; that in these various ways our lives, consecrated to the Lord, shall be laid down for the brethren day by day, opportunity by opportunity, as they shall come to us; that our love for the Lord, for the brethren, for our families and sympathetically for the world of mankind, will increasingly fill our hearts as we grow in grace, knowledge and obedience to the Divine Word and example (Gal. 6:10; 1 John 3:16). The great work which God asks of us is not for others, but is a work in ourselves, subduing, conquering, ruling self.
Heart-loyalty to the Lord means continual effort to bring all the conduct of our lives, our thoughts and intents of our hearts, into subjection to the Divine will (2 Cor. 10:4,5). This is our first duty, our continual duty, and will be the end of our duty; for “This is the will of God concerning our sanctification.”
In practical terms how do we carry out this sacrifice of thanksgiving in our daily lives. First, we must learn to attune ourselves to his will. Do we find time to daily study his word, because therein will we find what his will is for us? Do we truly believe that every issue of life can be resolved by going to the word of God, not only in the large matters, but also in the small? Have we a prayer life that is one of continual thankfulness? Do we note every thing that the Father does for us, no matter how insignificant we feel it may be? Are we approaching him less and less to grant our desires and more and more to thank him for life’s circumstances?
Daily do we attempt to speak forth the wonderful words that have been given us? Do we find some way each day to give comfort to the sin-sick and heavily burdened world? Perhaps a tract, or just a word in due season heralding the coming kingdom. Daily do we pray for greater means and ways to speed the harvest to its completion? Do we desire to find more opportunities in service and once finding them, heartily put our hand to the plow?
Do we look for ways each day to serve our brethren and lighten their burdens? Do we love them because we see the growth in them that marks them as being the Lord’s? Do we overlook and cover their blemishes and imperfections by not making them topics of discussion with others or even giving their foibles credence by thinking about them? Are we cognizant of both their spiritual and temporal needs, ever on the watch to see if in some way we can help? Do we give of our time as well and our means whenever and wherever needed? Perhaps it is time spent in helping in some temporal task, or perhaps it is time spent in study so that we will always have something to give, either in private conversation or at the meetings.
Do we delight to meet with our brethren on all occasions? Do we make the meetings our personal responsibility and feel a burning need to always be there and to always try and gladden the hearts of all who are there?
At night, as we end the day, do we review what we have done and said? Do we see some progress in the development of our characters? Do we admit to our failures and seeks ways to do better the next time we are tried and tested? Have we seen and learned all of the lessons that the Lord had for us that day?
Is our life in Christ the center point of our existence? Then this will be our sacrifice of thanksgiving. From one standpoint, doing these things will be a sacrifice—a sacrifice of time, money and cherished ambitions, because now there will be neither time or means for them. But from another standpoint it will be our great joy in this life, because the Lord promises us: “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22). Is our lofty goal the completion of the race course and are we bending our all to win the great prize” When we ask “What shall I render unto the Lord?” is our joyful response “EVERYTHING?”