On Being Mindful of God's Blessings
THE DISCIPLE. Open my heart, 0 Lord, to know Your law, and teach me to live according to Your commandments(Ps.119:1; 2 Macc.1:4) Grant me to know Your will, and reverently to consider all Your countless blessings, that henceforward I may yield You due and worthy thanks. I know and confess that I am wholly unable to render You proper thanks, even for the least of the many blessings that You grant me, for I am less than the least of Your gifts. When I consider Your boundless generosity, my spirit grows faint at its greatness.
Whatever powers of soul and body we possess, outwardly or inwardly, natural or supernatural, are Your own gifts, and proclaim the bounty of the loving and good God, from whom we receive all good gifts. And whether we receive more or less, all gifts are Yours, and without You we have nothing. Thus, whoever has received abundant gifts may not on that account boast of his merits, nor exalt himself above his fellows, nor despise any who are less richly endowed; for the greater and better a man is, the less he attributes to himself, and the more humbly and devoutly he returns thanks to God. He who holds himself in humble esteem, and judges himself most unworthy, is most fitted to receive God's greatest gifts.
One who has received lesser gifts should not on that account be grieved, or envious of those who are more richly endowed than himself. Rather, he should turn to You and praise Your goodness, for Your gifts are given generously, freely, and readily, without respect of persons.(Rom.2:11) All good things come of You ; therefore in all things You are to be praised.(Rom.11:36) You alone know what is right for each to receive; and it is not for us to judge why one has less and another more, for You alone can weigh the merits of each.
O Lord God, I count it a great mercy not to possess many of those gifts which outwardly appear praiseworthy and admirable in the eyes of men. For a man who recognizes his own poverty and worthlessness should not be sad and sorry, nor be dejected on that account; rather should he take comfort and be glad, for You, 0 God, have chosen the poor, the humble, and the despised of this world to be Your own familiar friend (John 15:15; 1Cor. 1:27) and servants. Your Apostles are themselves witnesses of this, whom You have made princes over the whole earth(Ps. 45:16) Yet they lived in this world without complaint, being so humble, simple, and without malice ordeceit, that they were glad to endure reproaches for Your Name's sake(Acts 5:41) and what the world seeks to avoid, they embraced with ready gladness.
Nothing should give so much joy to one who loves You and receives your blessings, as that Your holy will and the good pleasure of Your eternal purpose should be accomplished in him. With this he should be so greatly comforted and content, that he would as gladly be accounted the least of men as others might desire to be accounted great. He would be as peaceable and content in the last place as in the first;(Luke 14:10) as willing to be a despised outcast of no name or reputation, as to be honoured and exalted among the great. Your will and the honour of Your Name must come before all else; this will bring greater comfort and richer pleasure than all other benefits that have been, or may be given.
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