Posts Tagged ‘joy’

In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)

Holy Scripture has relatively few verses that say directly “this is the will of God for you.”  Can you think of more than a handful?  I seriously doubt it. So this must be pretty important.

I am personally convinced that gratitude (along with trust and obedience) are the primary markers of discipleship in the heart of a follower of Jesus Christ. Am I growing in trust? Am I growing in obedience? Am I growing in gratitude?

I don’t think it is an accident that our culture has chosen this weekend out of all the weekends in the year to focus us on Black Friday and it’s potential for cultivating envy, discontent, competition and the accumulation of stuff. But to keep this short this Thanksgiving morning, let me simply offer 3 reasons that I believe thanksgiving (with a small t)…or gratitude…is essential.

1. Gratitude takes my focus off myself onto another. No man or woman is an island. We are dependent on others and the Lord. To believe otherwise is delusional and dangerous. Gratitude returns me to a sane starting point.

2. Gratitude is an antidote to my pride. Pride is the temptation to believe I am the source, the self-sufficient one, the one who knows and can accomplish all that is needed. It’s a destructive, even damning lie and the antidote is gratitude.

3. Gratitude is an antidote to my sense of entitlement. My sinful nature easily moves me to focus on what I think I deserve, my “rights”, a reducing of my relationships to transactions and “how people can help me” instead of “how can I love them.”

Gratitude strikes at the very heart of entitlement’s cousins – comparison and envy. It reminds me that I am not the source…of anything!. And it moves me from the myopic selfishness of focusing on myself to focusing on others and ultimately on our Creator. When I practice gratitude I discover joy, contentment, peace. I discover that others find me easier to live with. I discover that my heart begins to change.

I am thankful for Thanksgiving and a national holiday that invites us to respond to the love and mercy of Christ with the baby steps of saying thank you!

What are you thankful for today?

The capacity to relate to another person in a caring way is an achievement of maturity.” BOOM!

This isn’t Peterson’s point, but here is a great gut-check. Am I mature? Well, do I relate to others in a caring way? He goes on:

Young people have moments when they care, but it is not characteristic among them to have the sustained strength and emotional stability for the faithful caring of another.” (p. 43)

According to Peterson, you learn caring by being cared for. So what happens when a generation reaches “adulthood” without having been cared for in such a way that they are capable of caring for others? (That is a lot of uses of the word “care!” I typed it and I had to reread it!) Unfortunately, Peterson doesn’t weigh in on this one. But we are there in North America, aren’t we?

Dr. Chap Clark and Fuller Youth Institute have both done a great job of chronicling what Chap calls “generations of systemic abandonment.” Where have you seen the effects of systemic abandonment in adults?

Peterson does not worry about the greater culture here, but engages us as individuals to remind us that differences are an occasion for an exchange of personal love, faith and hope.

What a great reminder! How would it change the lives of those around us if we used words like surprise, delight, interesting, joy, admiration, affection, expectation and exciting to characterize generational differences in our minds and to set our expectations for encounters with others of a different age….especially with those who are 10 to 30 years old?

(This post is inspired by chapter 5 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).