Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A "Thank-ometer"

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Col.3:15)

Our pastor suggested this past Sunday that thanksgiving is a poor substitute for "thanks-living." I agree. Talk's cheap, even when we're talking to God, or maybe, especially. I appreciate a conscientious child or adult who is careful to say, "Thank you," for great or small favors; but I question my own, or others' genuine gratitude when our lives are played out otherwise. I began thinking of attitudes that (to me) indicate very little gratitude and came up with five. There are others, I'm sure, but these are for sure.

We are not thankful, when we are:

1. FRETFUL - "...and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God..." (Isa.8:21). Why is it that some people are so quick to blame God or others when they suffer need, yet are the last to acknowledge the grace of God and the kindness of others, when life is smooth sailing? When we are easily agitated by circumstances or people we show disregard for past blessings.

2. BOASTFUL - "For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them...In God we boast all the day long..." (Psl.44:3,8). As long as we are more conscious of our own actions in any victories we may experience, we will be less inclined to give glory to the hand of God that caused us to triumph.

3. WASTEFUL - "When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments hat remain, that nothing be lost" (John 6:12). When we are filled and satisfied, it is easy to assume "there's more where that came from"; and, indeed, Jesus could have made loaves and fish all day long if He had wanted to. But He didn't. He wanted them to be as thankful for the fragments as they were for the fish. This is just as true for our lives as it is for our leftovers. To waste the fragments that remain is to display ingratitude for the fullness that came before.

4. JUDGMENTAL - "Then his lord...said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt...shouldest thou not also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?" (Matt.18:32-33) Let me make it clear; God expects us to make good judgments—about things and people; and when necessary, and called upon, these judgments should be expressed. What I am questioning here is sizing up and pigeonholing people, with no regard for all the facts or any mitigating circumstances. To refuse forgiveness of a moral or spiritual "debt" that has been repented of and forsaken, is to forget the heavy debt we ourselves owed, making us ingrates of the worst kind.

5. UNCHEERFUL - "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb.13:5). By uncheerful (Okay, I know it's not be a word.), I mean discontented. When the Bible ranks contentment with godliness (1Tim.6:6), one is forced to take it very seriously. I wrote something a few years ago that is still true today, I think: "As we used to say, "Make do." Make do with your husband or wife, children, possessions, health, temperament, looks—all of it. Not because they are all you have, but because they are truly all you want. We may say we are thankful for our husbands, but if we are constantly trying to correct or change them, our words belie our actions. We may profess to be grateful for the children God gave us, but when we insist upon comparing them unfavorably with the children of others, they feel little appreciation. And when we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to upgrade our possessions, health, or looks, our discontent has smothered any vestige of gratitude we might profess." Ouch! I hate it when I "preach" myself under conviction!

Gratitude, like love, is a choice. "Be ye thankful," or not. I thank the Lord every morning for numerous blessings, and often I ask the blessed Holy Spirit to help me live that day as if I really meant what I said. I can testify, sing, write—praise God, in general—for all His mercies to me; yet the "thank-ometer" of my life can show some fairly low readings from time to time.

But, thank God, every day is a new beginning, and you and I have the opportunity of not only offering our thanksgiving, but more importantly, our thanks-living. May God make it real in our hearts—and lives—today!

It's good to give thanks; but it's better to be thankful.

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