Originally posted Saturday October 16, 2004
Erwin McManus wrote; “It is gratitude that nurtures wholeness and expresses itself as generosity in the end. Gratitude is the pathway of love. It unleashes the healing power of love. It increases our capacity to experience love and give it” (Uprising; p. 114). Gratitude helps us to become people of love.
Love is a choice, but first it was a gift. God’s love for us is the greatest of all the gifts which He has given. Our very lives are products of God’s love. If God did not love we would not exist. If God did not love all the pleasures we enjoy in life would never have been woven into the world. It is God’s love that is behind every gift and blessing that we have ever enjoyed.
Even before we became Christians God’s love was freely given to us. When we were God’s enemies He showed us love through giving us time to repent and an opportunity to hear the Gospel. That is cause for thanksgiving.
I do think we run into a problem with God’s love. The problem is that God’s love has been such a constant for us we have grown use to it. We no longer see it as the great gift that it is, and instead we come to think of it as something that we deserve. God’s love is a gift to be treasured, but it has become an everyday occurrence which is easy to ignore.
How do we show our gratitude for the love God has given us? I believe the first step is taking an honest look at ourselves. This is not a one time occurrence, but it is something which needs to be done on a regular basis. As God’s messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you (Romans 12:3; NLT). This is the beginning point of humility. Without humility we begin to think we deserve gift that is given to us. Only the humble see the blessings of God as the gifts that they are and therefore respond in gratitude.
I believe the next step in being grateful for God’s love is by using the gifts He has given us. Rather than wishing we had life of someone else, we live the life God has blessed us with. God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you (1 Peter 4:10; NLT). When we use the gifts God has given us we are expressing the gratitude we have towards God and we are allowing His generosity to flow through us into the lives of other people.
The third step in having a grateful life is living a life of love. We cannot be grateful to a person we do not love or care about. If we are going to be thankful to God for the gifts He has given, then we need to first love Him. Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like a sweet perfume to him (Ephesians 5:1,2; NLT). A life of love is a life lived in obedience to God’s Will. Paul states here that a life of love is a life which is pleasing to God. A grateful persons seeks to please the One who has blessed him.
God has given us the gift of love. Often in return we accept that love as if it is something that we deserve, rather than worshiping and thanking Him for His generosity. If we are going to be grateful we need to be humble, we need to be stewards, and we need to be lovers. That is how we show God, and the world, that we are thankful for His love.
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