Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Life Lived in Gratitude

G.K. Chesterton once said that the root of all sin was ingratitude. He's right -- just read the first chapter of Romans.

Well, here are a few remarks from yesterday's sermon which deal with this subject also. I was preaching on Colossians 2: 6-15 and shared these comments about verse 7 in which the Christians of Asia Minor were described by the apostle Paul as "having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."

...And note too, Paul is applauding them for following what they had been heretofore taught. That’s quite a different thing than what we hear nowadays – when everything’s got to be new and fresh and hip. We won’t tolerate anything that’s from yesterday, let alone from the last decade or from our parent’s generation. Old books, old music, old architectural styles, and old values – all that’s got to go to make room for the new stuff.

That is a very American attitude. A very apt perspective for the advertising age.

But it isn’t biblical.

The Colossians, however, were doing it right. They had carefully learned from their teachers and they cherished those lessons. They were overflowing with gratitude.

But, again, moderns seem to defy the virtue of gratitude. In the consumer society in which we live, we are programmed never to be satisfied, let alone grateful. We are made to always be in a state of dis-ease until we get this product or that. And it doesn’t even stop there. Because as soon as you buy that thing, you’re enticed to buy another or buy one of a different color or get the upgrade, etc. etc.

We have no staying power.

We aren’t grateful for what we have – products, services, lifestyles or looks, our nation’s heritage and values, the strengths of Western civilization, the historic depository of our Christian faith.

We aren’t grateful for any of it. We want more. We want something else. We want something new.

But God wants us to be grateful; indeed, to overflow with gratitude. For only then can we keep the correct perspective – only then can we look forward with the best lens, the lens of gratitude for what we already possess.

This is perhaps the biggest challenge to Christians living in the West today, to develop a life of gratitude. But just think how radically our lives would change if we did – the reduction of stress and worry and anger and second-guessing and blame and overspending and the fatigue that comes from trying to keep up with the Wal-Mart circulars or the TV ads or the latest, greatest, must-have church growth fad.

What our lives and families and nation and churches would be like if we cultivated gratitude for life…for creation…for the means to earn a living…for freedom, for the Constitution, for excellent literature and art and music, for family life, for the beauty of whatever area of the country we live in, for our spiritual heritage, for the Bible, for our salvation, for our blessed future in heaven.

You’ll never find greater solace and happiness in life than by finding your way to live “overflowing with gratitude” as the Colossian Christians did. But let's move on to verse 8...