READ: Psalm 116, Zephaniah 1, John 20, 1 Thessalonians 2
WHAT SHALL WE RENDER?
We suppose all kinds of ridiculous things about Jesus. We suppose He is a gardener (John 20:15) or that He is in debt to us for the labor of our hands. We think wrongly about what we can give to God, about what He wants from us. Like children giving their father a tie on Father’s Day, we may be well intentioned and God may very well be gracious, but we tend to give Him things He doesn’t need or can’t use. When the Psalmist asks the question, “What shall we render to the Lord,” the answer is counter-intuitive: “We shall take up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:13). Rather than our strength and accomplishments, the gift that pleases Jesus is our need and inadequacy. What can we give God? Our need! Our dependence on Him is the great gift we give Jesus. We honor Jesus by accepting what He gives us (we give by receiving) and by staying dependent on Him. To live in Christ without acknowledging our constant need for Jesus is to continually insult Him. When the psalmist states, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (v. 15), it is in this context of giving God honor by receiving salvation and dependently calling on His name. Death to self-reliance is supremely precious to God; it is something we can give Him that He greatly values.
We are told in John 20:31 that “believing we may have life in His name.” We honor Jesus by believing in Him. Belief gives us life, belief is what we render to Jesus. The belief of man is what God counts valuable–more than our labor (though labor is both required and appreciated). We can labor for God without really trusting Him. In fact too much Christian labor is based on unbelief–we don’t really believe God’s promises so we take matters into our own hands and think that our human effort is what is decisive. Many good men and women’s lives of service stem from a base dis-belief in God. The highest delight of God in man (for God by nature is fully and completely delighted in Himself) is when man fully believes and deeply trusts.
As we contemplate what we can render to God, what we can give Him that delights Him, we must not overlook receiving salvation (Psalm 116:13) or calling upon Him as long as we live (v. 2). Our belief delights Jesus. Our ongoing dependency for every breath delights Jesus. Our calling on Him, praise and prayer, delights Him. Our misguided self-sufficiency misleads us into thinking God does not want to be bothered. This is but a subtle form of pride and it in truth offends and insults the God who designed us to need Him. The greatest rendering we can give our Lord is to receive salvation in an ongoing manner–only He can continually save us. We give to God by receiving what He has done for us. Receiving Jesus is believing Jesus, and believing Jesus is delighting Him.