Everyone who knows the New Testament knows how the apostolic life abounded in praise. It runs like some singing river through all their changing days. And where did they learn the habit? They had got it from their LORD.
The Master's habit must have made a profound impression upon them. There must have been something very distinct and distinctive about it.
We are told that the two disciples, journeying to Emmaus after the awful happenings in Jerusalem, recognized their risen LORD when He began to give thanks. "He was made known to them in the breaking of bread." They knew Him by His gratitude and by the manner in which He expressed it. He was recognized by His praise. Let us recall two or three examples of this shining habit of our Lord.
"And Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks." That is to say, He took commonplace, common bread, and associated it with GOD, and it was no longer a commonplace.
He gave thanks, and in the recognition the common was revealed as the Divine.
The man whose praise is elicited by loaves will also be thankful for the cornfield, the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, for the reapers who gather the corn, for the touch of GOD in the labourer, and for the millstones which grind the corn that makes the bread.
He who took the loaves and gave thanks would also give thanks for the common lily of the field, the daisy of His native land.
Indeed, I think we may truly say that the Master's habit of praise made every common thing radiant, and every wayside bush became aflame with GOD. He breathed His music of gratitude through the commonest reeds.
Now unless His disciples can do the same, unless we can touch and feel GOD in the commonplaces, He is going to be a very infrequent and unfamiliar Guest.
For life is made up of very ordinary experiences. Now and again a novelty leaps into the way, but the customary tenor is rarely broken.
It is the ordinary stars that shine upon us night after night; it is only occasionally that a comet comes our way.
Look at some of the daily commonplaces--health, sleep, bread and butter, work, friendship, a few flowers by the wayside, the laughter of children, the ministry of song, the bright day, the cool night--if I do not perceive GOD in these things I have a very unhallowed and insignificant road.
On the other hand, the man who discovers the Divine in a loaf of bread, and lifts his song of praise, has a wonderful world, for divinity will call to him on every side.
I do not know how we can better begin to cultivate the Master's habit than by beginning with daily bread. Because if we begin with bread we cannot possibly end there.
If we see one commonplace lit up with GOD, other commonplaces will begin to be illumined, until life will be like some city seen from a height by night, with all the common lamps in the common streets burning and shining with mystic flame.
So let us begin with bread. But let us give thanks reverently, not with the sudden tap and the sharp, superficial sentence of a public dinner. Let us do it quietly, apprehendingly, with an effort to realize the presence of the awful, gracious, merciful God. And let us do it without formality, and seeking deliverance from the perilous opiate of words. Let us change our phraseology, let us sometimes bow in silence, and share the significant, worshipful stillness of the Friends.
Let us watch our Master again and listen to His praise. "I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
Our Master thanks the Father that spiritual secrets are not the perquisites of culture, that it is not by cleverness that we gain access into the Kingdom of Grace.
He gives thanks that "these things" have not been made dependent upon academic knowledge, that they are not the prizes of the merely clever and acute, but that they are "revealed unto babes."
~John Henry Jowett~