Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Grateful

Being content is a full time enterprise. Seriously, if I don't work at being content, then I start to get distracted by temptations on every side. A few (mostly) silly examples:
Toys - Is there a new Star Wars Lego set out? Cool, let's go look at it at Soren (and try to convince mommy we should buy it)!
Games - That new board game takes 5 hours to play and some of the instructions are in Latin? I can't wait to buy it and play it one time before putting in the closet forever!
Activities - I have been doing this same activity for 2 months now? I really need to start something new! How about Zoomba!
Food - I've eaten beans twice this month? I need to eat the newest food craze now!

This week I talked to my students about being grateful. Thanksgiving provokes us to think about thankfulness, contentedness, and gratefulness.

As I studied for the lesson I encountered a familiar problem. The text showed me I needed to make a change in my own life.

Preparing to teach the Bible should involve several important steps. The text should be read a few times. Prayer finds it ways throughout the experience. Historical and cultural research, cross-referncing, and language study all take up time in the process. Eventually, when the teacher begins to think directly about application, the text must have been fermenting in the soul for many hours. Many times this causes the honest teacher to revaluate their own relationship to the text.

This is where it caused a problem for me. I don't always live out the application and meaning of the verse we were studying.

Colossians 3:17 occupied our discussion this week.

It says, "And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (HCSB)"

This is not a flippant "Thank You!" We are expected to live out our thanks. The work of Jesus should be at the forefront of every action, internal and external in our lives. It should be transformative.

To be more precise, the thanksgiving we believers express to God through our lives because of Jesus Christ must clearly show the transformative nature of the Gospel.

It must express this...must! If it does not express the transformative nature of the Gospel we are being led away into glorification of self. In a nutshell, this is what the book of Colossians is about. When we are filled with the work and person of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, our lives contain the sufficiency of Christ.

Sufficiency here does not just mean "enough." This word fails to express the fullness of sufficiency in Christ. Sufficiency in Christ means we have everything we need.

And this is how it all connects- If I truly have everything I need in Christ, then I will be content. To express discontent is to express dissatisfaction with the sufficiency of Christ. It is to be an ungrateful, spoiled, rotten, and petulant child. Nobody likes being around that kid, not even that kid. I do not want to be him.

But I am. Frequently.

Only a person who is content can consistently experience the grateful life. A grateful life, a thankful life expresses it in visible ways. We must consistently act our gratitude.

This week I want to express my gratitude to someone in my life who I am thankful toward. I am going to tell them. I am also going to do something for this person.

I also want to express my gratitude to God. I want to do this in an active way. Prayer and Bible study are good, but our gratitude to God should never end there.

The best part of Thanksgiving is that it is extremely hard to compromise a real "Thank You." We all know how to spot the faker, the person who says "Thank You" in a hypocritical or flippant way. So, instead let's be thankful.

Express your thanks today. Be active. Be visible in your consequences and secret in your identity. That's my plan for now.

Happy Thanksgiving.
-Christopher

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