Gratitude and GraceBy Dan Vis
November 06, 2017
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It's got a great story behind it, and for many, it's full of good food, family and friends. And somehow it has managed to retain much of its Christian character in spite of the pervasive secularism today.
This Thanksgiving is going to be a special one for my family. If all goes well, by then we will have fully made our transition from life in Illinois as a busy Chicagoland pastoral family to our new home in North Dakota, free to pursue the ministry of FAST full time. While leaving our church family is going to be extraordinarily difficult, we trust God is leading. And we look forward to this amazing opportunity to serve a larger worldwide community.
Actually, both aspects of this transition fill my heart with gratitude. Leaving the church family we have grown to love so dearly only reminds me of the countless kindnesses this church has shown me over the last 7 years. And I'm humbled at the realization this move itself was only possible because of the overflowing financial support we received from our FAST community this past year. Whichever way I look at it, I am overwhelmed with gratitude!
As I was reflecting on this, I stumbled on to an interesting article by John Piper on the relationship between grace and gratitude. It is a bit theological for a casual read, but a few things stood out I thought worth sharing for our Monday Memo this week.
Grace & Gratitude
Piper starts out by noticing a little word play in II Corinthians 4:15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.:
II Corinthians 4:15
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
You can't see it in the KJV, but evidently in the original Greek, the word translated "thanksgiving" is the word "eucharistian". If you look closely you will notice the word "charis" in the center of it, which is the exact word translated "grace" in the same verse. In other words, the abundant grace of God is supposed to create gratitude back toward Him. Charis leads to Eucharistian.
Or to put it differently, it is impossible to really understand gratitude without understanding grace.
The article makes several insightful points about gratitude. Here's the nutshell version:
1) Gratitude is more than simply saying the words "thank you". There must be a corresponding feeling of gratitude. Otherwise it is just being polite.
2) The feeling of gratitude is a response to an act of giving--but it's focused on the giver, not the gift. We've all seen children so excited about a present, they forget the person who gave it. Gratitude doesn't even require us to value the gift; we value the intent of the giver.
3) The extent of our gratitude is generally proportional to how undeserved a gift appears. We don't write a thank you card to our employer each week for our paycheck, however much we might appreciate it. Gratitude comes when the gift is unexpected, unearned, unmerited.
And that's grace! It's an unmerited gift, given out of the graciousness of a loving God. When we realize the value of the gift, and our unworthiness to receive it, gratitude springs up in the heart. Grace is at the heart of gratitude...
As we prepare to complete the final stages of our move, we see everywhere the grace of God. His grace working through a loving church family which has been so good to us. His grace working through a visionary and Spirit-led conference which called us to pastoral ministry. His grace impressing hundreds of partners to support the mission of FAST make this move possible. His grace in a special wife and daughter, willing to follow wherever the Lord leads us.
And we already see God's grace ahead. A son willing to help us in countless ways to get our new house ready. His family making us feel so welcome and loved. Warm friends and churches and conference leaders we have just begun to get to know. And there will be more grace beyond that...
We know it all comes from a loving God. And we know we are unworthy. It inspires gratitude.
As we head into the holiday season, let's not lose sight of what it is really all about. God's goodness. His unmerited favor. His grace. The intentionality of His gift. His desire to bless. To save. To redeem. And as we contemplate these themes, may deep feelings of gratitude abound in our hearts "to the glory of God"!
PS. As a special way of showing our appreciation to our FAST community, we are preparing a special "thank you" class for the month of December called Project: HOPE. It opens December 1 and will be completely FREE. Get ready to learn powerful keys to greater happiness and joy!
CommentsWhat connections do you see between gratitude and grace? What can we do to focus more on the grace of God? What ways can we express gratitude to God? Share a thought or two in the comments below.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/08/17|
|Welcome Anita! Glad you found us. Be sure to let us know if you have questions. :)|
|Posted by Lynn Banik on 11/07/17|
Actually come to think of the word gratitude has to come with grace.Our Father who Art in Heaven has giving us the most precious gift that no one able to do so, He and only one that we able to be gratitude for everything in our life.as for (John 15:5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.) I am the vine ye are the branches He that abideth in me and i in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me ye can do nothing.
So it is a gratitude that i able to received God's love and that is the gift that i able to love Him also.
I pray that you and your family will always be bless and protected by the Holy Spirit will be with you and your family where you are.
|Posted by John Gilmore on 11/06/17|
|Dan, you wrote, "Gratitude doesn't even require us to value the gift; we value the intent of the giver." You got me thinking.... "We love Him because He first loved us." I John 4:19We love him, because he first loved us.. As God's grace ought to stimulate gratitude, His love also ought to stimulate our love in response. Indeed, He is the giver of all good things and the inspiration for all the good we can do!|
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