The Proud Pharisees and Those Poor-in-Spirit SinnersNovember 11, 2021
Dayenu: A Post-Thanksgiving and Pre-Christmas ThoughtDecember 2, 2021
“It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” Naomi Williams
How often do you criticize and complain? My answer: more than I’d like to admit. When you do, please understand you have lost your focus – on gratitude. You have lost your focus on just how blessed you are. Think about that for a moment. If I am full of gratitude, thinking often about the multitude of blessings my Heavenly Father has lavished on me, how could I criticize – how could I complain?
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
Gratitude is like the aspirin: the miracle medicine that can help with a multitude of ailments. With a spirit of gratitude, sicknesses such as worry, anxiety, fear, and yes, even envy, greed, lust and unforgiveness, can all be mitigated, and often eliminated.
I cannot seem to forgive someone? I obviously have forgotten His forgiveness of me.
I am worried, full of fear and anxiety? When I focus on all that He has already done for me, the incredible richness of His grace and mercy and love, and the lavishness of His blessings, then …“What exactly was I so worked up about?”
I am tempted to lust, hate, envy, or resent? Have I so quickly forgotten what Jesus has done for me? Am I really that much of an ingrate?
Of course, this all presupposes that He has indeed blessed you with His salvation. I feel humbled and grateful that He would save a wretch like me. Okay, perhaps, like the “woman who had lived a sinful life,” I was a much bigger wretch than you. But are you overwhelmed by His past and present grace?
If you are not overwhelmed with this gratitude, may I suggest, gently, but with necessary bluntness, one of two observations?
- You have not yet been saved by His grace.
- If you have, you are then indeed an ingrate.
I say this with love and a warm smile, yet the truth may offend.
Last week we looked at Luke’s story about the overwhelming gratitude of a woman who had “lived a sinful life.” She fell at Jesus’ feet, washing his feet with her tears.
When Jesus’ host, Simon, turned his nose up at such base behavior, Jesus called him out on it:
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:44-47)
Simon could have run theological circles around this woman. His resume was top-notch. But he did not have what she had: love, exploding with gratitude. She had been forgiven so much, and she knew it. She was compelled, even overwhelmed by her gratitude.
If you want to live with joy power over willpower, challenge yourself: are you compelled by fear, or perhaps the need to perform, or because you are overflowing with gratitude?
One is a burden; the other a blessing.
If you want a little more:
“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
Each morning, before I even open my eyes, I spend a few minutes going over things for which I want to thank Jesus. I do this every morning. Sometimes at night, as well. My list may include things such as the house in which I live, the car I drive, my beloved Greenville. I then typically move to more weighty matters, such as my family’s good, healthy; that he has allowed me to work for him; the parents he gave me; my salvation. And on.
We call it, “The first 60 seconds.”
Try this. It will transform the way you get out of bed and start your day.