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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Take for Granted

To take for granted: to fail to appreciate something or someone. To expect someone or something to always be available without thanks or recognition. To consider as true without thinking about it.

If you do a search for the word, "granted", in the Bible, you'll find a lot of references. Isaac prayed for Rebekah because she was barren and the Lord granted his prayer (Gen 25:21). Samson complained because after killing 1,000 Philistines he was thirsty, so he said to God, "You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?" (Judges 15:18) Hannah prayed for a son and, having received him, gave him to the priest, Eli, saying, "For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD." (1 Sam 1:27-28) In the New Testament, Pilate granted Jesus's corpse to Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:45). Jesus said, "As the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself (John 5:26). When Paul was being taken to Rome in chains and his boat was caught in a deadly storm, he reassured everyone by telling them that an angel told him "Behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you." (Acts 27:24) Peter writes of the glorious truth that "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." (2 Peter 1:3-4) Lots and lots of "granteds".

What is "granted"? What does it mean to "grant" something? That is, how would we avoid "taking it for granted"? Well, we're not vague on the word. It simply means to give something to someone or to allow them something. It is a gift. Someone with power or authority or possession gives something to someone who wants or needs it. In Revelation 11:3 God says "I will grant authority to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." (Rev 11:3) It is God's authority; He gives it to the witnesses. You would think, then, that "take for granted" would demand gratitude. I mean, the phrase would literally mean "to take as a gift". And, yet, the phrase means "to fail to appreciate something."

As it turns out, we Christians do this often. Consider some of the things Scripture says are granted to us.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus. (Rom 15:5)

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. (2 Tim 1:16)

To the one who overcomes I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Rev 2:7)

And He said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65)

When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life." (Acts 11:18)

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2:24-26)

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake. (Phil 1:29)
Just a short list, really. How many of those "grants" did you find you "take for granted"? How many do you not appreciate?

I ask because it is fairly common that several of them aren't even recognized as gifts from God. We likely recognize mercy as a gift. We might recognize that the ability to live in harmony is a gift. But how about the very ability to come to the Father (John 6:65)? Not everyone is given that. How about repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim 2:25)? The Bible says twice that repentance is granted, and the second reference includes the distinct possibility that it won't be (2 Tim 2:25) ("God may perhaps grant them repentance ...") And most of us surely do not recognize faith as a gift (Phil 1:29). So, here we are -- believers, Christians, disciples of Christ -- and we're taking for granted things like faith and repentance that Scripture says God gave us, thinking instead that they're something we drummed up.

So what does it take for us to turn "take for granted" from "unappreciated" to "grateful for the gift"? I suppose it would have to start with the recognition that it was a gift, wouldn't it?

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