Friday, February 19, 2010
A Heart of Gratitude
How hard is it for you to say thank you? Are you a grateful person? I personally believe that most of the women I know are grateful, thankful women. I am continually inundated with thank you cards and emails of encouragement on a regular basis. So know that from the get go, this is not a post because I think any of you have a problem with thankfulness.
But in light of all the love and romance of last weekend, I feel that it is appropriate for us to evaluate the source of everything good and ask ourselves if we are thankful children. I think the American culture has produced a lot of great things in the world, but it also has cultivated an independent, I-deserve-whatever-I-can-achieve attitude. Freedom does that. Freedom is all about putting rights into the hands of the individual and letting him shape his own destiny.
Economically speaking, this is a good thing. I'm all for free enterprise. But the down side is that because freedom places any progress or upward movement in the hands of the individual, the only person to thank for anything good that comes their way is the individual themselves. Am I making sense? When my destiny is in my hands, I only have myself to thank.
I've been reading a book by Michael Card, titled "A Better Freedom - Finding Life as Slaves of Christ," and in it he compares the Christian life with the mindset of Old Testament, New Testament and American slaves. It's something that is hard for us to grasp because we are free. Still, the scripture is full of slave imagery. Paul's letters had instructions to slaves and Jesus Himself used the slave/master illustration in His teaching: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Luke 16:13
If the master was good to his slave, the slave was completely aware. His living conditions, clothing, food, sleep - everything in his life was dependent on the will of his master. If the master was harsh and evil, that was also just a fact of life - the slave knew nothing but what the master provided, whether good or evil. He understood that his life was in the master's hands.
Because we are self-sufficient here in America, we believe that our destiny and our well-being lies in our own hands. If we need more money, we work harder. If we are sick, we choose if and when we'll see a doctor. If someone offends us, we have the right to get even, or at least feel hurt and seek sympathy. It's our choice because it's our life.
Okay, Kristen...get to the point.
Though I think we are thankful when people are kind to us, I believe there is a greater level of thankfulness that as believers we are called to offer. We have taken for granted that every breath is a gift from God. We forget that our food, our clothes, our shelter, and our health are all gifts from the Creator. If you don't believe me, spend some time looking at the Haiti pictures and then compare them with your surroundings. We overlook the fact that we understand the gospel and can read the Word with clarity because of God's gift of faith and grace. Most of us are thankful for the cross, but are we thankful everyday? Does the cross even enter our minds while we shop for groceries, fold the last load of laundry or kiss our children good night?
We need to be thankful people. Not just when someone is kind to us, but to God. We need to remember that our very well-being is in the hands of our Master. This heart of gratitude that I am trying to describe is one that takes work, especially if you are an American. You have to reprogram your mind from relying on yourself to improve your life, to recognizing that every good thing comes from above, that God's grace alone made the sun to rise this morning and God loves you so much that He paid much too high a price to purchase you.
Once you cultivate a heart of gratitude to the Lord, it will naturally overflow into your other relationships. You will become a blessing to those around you because you recognize the great kindness of your Master, and you realize that life is not all about you - it's for Him and His glory.
So this weekend, for just two days, roll up your sleeves and start observing your Master. Is He cruel or is He loving? If He's loving, thank Him for that. Is He impatient and angry or is He gentle and long suffering? Thank Him for that. Is He a minimalist or generous with His provision for you? (Just open your fridge to answer that one.) Thank Him for that.
I think you get the picture...
Work on your heart of gratitude.
Just two days.
See how it goes...