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Gratitude and Grace
By Dan Vis
November 06, 2017
Comments: 14

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...

Thank You!
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!

Comments

What 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 Jacqueline on 11/14/17
I am so thankful I pulled a muscle at work. So I am medium light duty. I got a virual upper respatoy infection. I can lend it in his word. God is good. Joshua bought cough drops. He was born on Thansgiving.God many blessing. I love thanksgiving. I always like the Indian helping the puritians that he showed goodwill to his neighbor. God moves in mysterious ways.
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/13/17

Nice thought Sherry. That is a good example of "gratitude" that was somewhat misdirected. :)

We're going to be close to Fargo Nathaniel. May visit the churches out there before settling in on one. Who knows, we may even run into your old friend! Thank you for your prayers...

Posted by Nathaniel C Nwazue on 11/10/17
Dan, as I read your peace it took my mind back to many years after graduating from College.I had a job that required extensive travelling. I was stationed in North Dakota but lodge in Moore-head and traveled to different cities in Minnesota. Life was very lonely to say the list. One evening, I found myself in McDonald in Fargo. Their a gentle man by name Jason Kotabra and his wife met me and told me how impressed he was to see me with a very inviting smile. Soon our conversation developed into friendship. Coming to find out he was a school principal in Gran-fox where they lived. They would visit frequently to see me and I treasured there company very greatly. I lost contact after I was laid off from my job. But the memory of how God provided me the company of friends is something I will be grateful for through out my life. I pray that God will use you and your family to be a blessing in your new environment.
Posted by Sherry Olson on 11/10/17

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.

Reminds me when Christ sent out his disciples and they came back rejoicing that even the demons were subject to them in the name of Jesus, and Christ told them not rejoice over this but that their names were written in the book of life. He has given us the victory through the blood of Jesus and we don't have to let Satan have any victory in our lives, but the gift isn't what He wants us to celebrate, it is the "intent" of the giver, which is to have us in heaven with Him and on the new earth for all eternity, which should place our focus on the Giver of eternal life, not the gift itself.
I hope I expressed that in a way that makes sense! :)

Thank you for sharing...

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 Anita Simmons on 11/08/17
I am full of gratitude that God has provided a group of people from all walks of life. This circle of friends share daily ministries from many locations and are deeply committed to bringing Words of God to all with the truth that Christ Is All! I am also very grateful that one of these people has shared this unique area with me and hope to learn my way around the site! Glory to God!
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/07/17
Thank you Lynn and Valerie for posting! Appreciate your thoughts...
Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 11/07/17

Wonderful thought for this week's memo! It is exciting to hear how the Lord is leading you not only with FAST but in all areas of your life. Praise God!

I recognize that the Lord has given me a spirit of gratitude for a long time even as a child which is clearly only from His grace. Thank You Father for Your grace, and love in Jesus Christ for us.

Posted by Lynn Banik on 11/07/17
Hi PrDan
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 Dan Vis on 11/07/17

Good reminder Carole, that it is the Holy Spirit that awakens these feelings in us. I think He does that partially by inspiring thoughts like those outlined in this weeks article.

Appreciate you sharing some of the things you are thankful for, and your prayers. Congrats on (almost) 55 years of marriage!

Posted by Carole Bliss on 11/06/17
God's grace prompts us to feel grateful to JESUS. HIS Spirit in us, His daily presence, His promises to us, and more.
I am grateful to have had a grandmother who came over from Sweden, went to one of E.G.White's meetings, and was converted.
I am grateful for 55 years of marriage this coming January. So many things to be grateful for. It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourself, it is a gift from God, lest any man should boast.
I will be praying for you and your family and for your ministry.
Blessings,
Carole
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/06/17

Glad this was helpful Qing. I think we don't really fully appreciate how much joy an attitude of gratitude can bring to our life. Understanding how it works, can help direct our thoughts so they tend towards gratitude.

That's a good thought, John. There is a difference between enjoying all the gifts of salvation and loving God because it is his nature to give. Sometimes we can be like those children I mentioned in the article above. As you said, may His many blessings stimulate love toward God Himself...

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!
Posted by Qing Ling on 11/06/17
Gratitude abounds from grace. There is gratitude BECAUSE there is awareness of the unworthiness/being undeserving of what has been so generously bestowed without merit. Thanks for this article that has emphasised the connection for me between gratitude and grace. i see now how gratitude cannot exist without grace! if i deserved to be given something, then there would not be the gratitude for it, but simply an expectation.

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