Presence Devotion #22
Luke 1: 46-53 (KJV)
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Ephesians 4:17-19 (NIV)
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
The bible gives us insight into two very different heart attitudes. When Mary was chosen and blessed by God, with the possibility of terrible consequences to her reputation and social standing, she chooses to respond with gratitude and awe; she does not mention the possible trials she will face. It is said best in the King James Version “My soul doth magnify the Lord”. In other versions it says she ‘exalts’ or ‘praises’ Him. Her attitude allows God’s glory to be the focus of her life. He cannot be made bigger, but his greatness is magnified (focused on and made larger in her mind) through her thanks. Her heart and her mind are focused solely on the God she knows and trusts, and the consequence is that his will and power is released through her.
On the other hand, Mary exclaims that God scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts; that is those things they meditate on and desire. This idea is picked up in many scriptures including Ephesians 4. The gentiles are judged as living in darkness and ignorance through having hardened hearts, full of greed and insatiable desires. So pride and greed, the opposite of the gratitude which Mary so beautifully models is what so often ensnares and limits the possibility of salvation, and God’s power. Gratitude is the humbling antidote we must take in order to live in the world, but not of the world.
I know how hard it can be to maintain this spiritual attitude in a world full of advertising and media saturation. I have wasted so much of my life, musing over fashion magazines, Pinterest, television shows full of beauty and affluence, all the while allowing the imaginations of my heart be captivated by these messages of inadequacy, lack and striving. I grew up in this society, and was ambushed well before I had learned to question the messages the world was sending me. I feel that a lot of my maturing process has been casting off these false messages and replacing them with the spirit filling truth found in God’s word. It isn’t easy, but it is worth doing.
Start by saying (or continue to say) thank-you for what God has already given you, no matter how hard the circumstances may be today. If you really can’t say thank-you for today, say thank-you for the things you know will come tomorrow. It switches the eyes of your heart from the world to the glory of God. Deliberately make time to say thank-you every day in a very specific way. It will help your heart desire his word, as the desires for the things of this world fade. God is faithful to those who humble themselves in gratitude and fervently seek him.
Lord, I say thanks. I look around at the details of my life and see great blessing. Thank-you for patiently completing a good work in me and for the grace you show as I mature. Thank-you for your life giving word; May it change and soften my heart; may it bring me to repentance and help me to put on my new self. Let my soul magnify you today.
Further Reading: Colossians 3:1-17
- What is it that your heart has been meditating on most lately?
- Which heart attitude does it come from?
- Where is God showing you that you are greatly loved by him?