Greetings Grace Family!
It’s time for my annual Thanksgiving newsletter article. It seems appropriate for November to pen an article about gratitude considering the national holiday at the end of this month.
Gratitude is a vital component of our faith. It is the primary motivating factor in discipleship, thanks to God’s unlimited grace. Think about it, God’s gives us all the blessings without us having to earn them and the continuation and consistency of His blessings are unconditional. God will always pour out His blessings whether or not we are ‘doing the right things.’ This is all thanks to the cross and Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Prior to that the blessings of God were somewhat conditional. I say somewhat because the covenants God initiated with His people generally had a component of expectation; God will bless if the people do...fill in the blank. It was, in theory, a great motivator for the Israelites to be obedient and observant to the agreement though they consistently failed to uphold their end of the bargain.
One would think that instead of loosening the restrictions God would have ramped up the requirements of blessings considering how often His people failed. But, God does not think or act like we do and instead removes anything that might be considered the conditions of blessings and unlimited grace is actualized. Instead of ramping up the conditions God ramped up His love. Very counterintuitive. Paul writes in Romans about the removal of the restrictions of the law by asking, hypothetically, “without the requirements of the law, should we go crazy with sin?” That is a paraphrased version, but pretty much sums it up. He answers emphatically in the negative in light of what Jesus did for us. In essence Paul implies that everyone should be so grateful for the extraordinary blessing of imparted righteousness that any response besides complete devotion is absurd.
How are we doing with that? Personally, I could do better. Human nature still gets in the way of my total devotion, but I have make great strides when I look back on my walk with our Lord. One of the main factors was a much greater sense of gratitude. For years I based my attitudes and perspective on bad theology and unrealistic expectations. By all accounts life was pretty good from a worldly perspective but something was still missing. I was generally unhappy most of the time. Most of you have heard some version of my story, so I wont fill this article with things you’ve likely heard before. At the heart of the change in my life was the internalized realization of grace, God’s unlimited blessing, and a profound sense of gratitude. It was life changing.
Ironically I experienced some of life’s greatest trials after that change of perspective, but because I had adopted a spiritual discipline of gratitude I never felt abandoned by God. I know it sounds corny and maybe even disingenuous, but it is true. You might be wondering what some of the aspects of a spiritual discipline of gratitude are. The simplest answer I can give is another corny saying, “count your blessings” with the added component of thanking God for those blessings.
Life is rarely ever 100% happy or 100% miserable. It is a mix of a lot of things. Certainly during the periods closer to 100% miserable, counting blessings is nearly impossible. But, for the most part there are countless things we have to be thankful for. I’m not going to list mine, but I would encourage you to do a personal inventory of the things you are grateful for. Take time regularly to take inventory and I promise that over time you will draw closer to God. Thanksgiving is a one-day holiday. Giving thanks is our reasonable response to grace. That’s another paraphrase from Romans. What are you thankful for?
Yours in Christ,