Thankful Hearts, Open Eyes
“As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.” – James E. Faust
"rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:7
Nothing new you're gonna hear about being grateful. Consider this a reminder of the life-changing work that gratitude can do. Consider it a call, not just to be thankful, but to be thankful past the brim. We are blessed in a way worth of that response, and our gratitude can unveil other blessings yet unseen.
For more information on the benefits of gratitude, see the following links:
7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round
7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude
Giving thanks can make you happier
Where Your Treasure is
According to Reuters, there USED to be a $5 million dollar toilet in London. "Burglars have stolen a fully-functional 18-carat gold toilet from Britain’s Blenheim Palace, where it had been installed as an art exhibit, police said on Saturday."
As a pastor, it is my nature to always be thinking about how life intersects with faith, and when I ran across the article about the missing gold toilet, I couldn't help but think about these words from Jesus:
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6: 19 -21
What does it say about the nature of where your heart is when you have a $5 million dollar toilet? Of course, since it was an art piece, my sense is that was exactly the point. It was a piece that wasn't supposed to make us say, "Ooh, I want one!", but to make us question the kinds of things that we give ourselves away for.
That is what it is to spend money, of course. We use our time, our lives, to make money, so when we spend it, we are trading our lives for whatever it is we buy. Now, before you judge the guy with a 5 million dollar toilet, let's look to our own lives. I'm not likely to have a golden toilet, but I have a closet full of things that are "just a few bucks" Most of those items will go to the rummage sale soon. Does it matter whether you flush 5 million dollars at once or 5 dollars at a time? Either way, it is a worthy question to ask, "Where does this mean my heart is?"
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17
I got to thinking about that phrase, "in the name of the Lord Jesus". "In the name of" can mean a two primary things, "for the sake of" or "by the authority of". Those don't sound like much, until you add Jesus' name and add in whatever you are doing, like some holy madlib.
For instance, "I'm writing this for the sake of Jesus." I'm writing this by the authority of Jesus." I'm not sure I'm comfortable using the term in the second sense. I feel uncomfortable putting words in Jesus' mouth.
But "for the sake of", well, as uncomfortable as it is, I think it is exactly what this Colossians scripture means. It gives much more weight to our actions.
And to our words. WHATEVER YOU DO IN WORD means that you'd have to play this Madlib game with what you say in traffic. Can you say, "Get back in your own lane, ya jerk!" for the sake of our Lord Jesus?
It may be unrealistic for us to analyze our lives this way at every moment, but it is worth giving it a thought now and then. If you have to do a particularly annoying or difficult task, try shifting your thoughts from "this is boring" to "I'm doing this for the sake of Jesus Christ". It might change the task, it might even change you.
Telling it Like it Is
Colorado State University adapted some helpful definitions about truth for its young writers from the classic “The Little Brown Handbook (Fowler, H. Ramsey. The Little, Brown Handbook. Boston: Little, Brown, 1986.)
“A FACT is verifiable. We can determine whether it is true by researching the evidence.”
“An OPINION is a judgment based on facts, an honest attempt to draw a reasonable conclusion from factual evidence.”
“Unlike an opinion, a BELIEF is a conviction based on cultural or personal faith, morality, or values…They cannot be disproved or even contested in a rational or logical manner.”
“Another kind of assertion that has no place in serious argumentation is PREJUDICE, a half-baked opinion based on insufficient or unexamined evidence. At best, prejudices are careless oversimplifications. At worst, they reflect a narrow-minded view of the world.”
It is a confusing world out there, especially when it comes to what people call “political correctness”. In response to the feeling that nothing anyone says is “safe” to say without getting in trouble, many of us have decided we’ll just tell the truth and to heck with the consequences. And, if we say whatever pops into our heads, and people are mad, well, maybe they just can’t handle the truth and whose fault is that?
Scripturally, I’d like to challenge that idea. Jesus says that HE is the way, the truth, and the life. So the rest of us can’t quite say that we own the truth.
Many of the things we say, especially in anger, aren’t truths. Sometimes, they may be based in facts, but even if they are, they are often an interpretation about what those facts mean. And those interpretations are usually either opinion, belief, or prejudice.
Let me give us a scripture to keep in mind when we are ready to tell someone like it is.
“A fool gives full vent to anger, but the wise quietly holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11
Not everything we think needs to be public. And if we decide we should say what is on our mind, it is important to understand what it is we are sharing first. Is it our opinion, our belief, or our prejudice? Our prejudice should be kept behind our lips and prayed over. Our opinion and belief may be appropriate to share, but if we understand that it is different than fact, we can be more careful about when and if we share it. Then, we can share it with more love and more humility.
Rev. Jana Quisenberry is the minister at Brightwood Christian Church. She's an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, She now resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, two children, and dog, Sookie. Pastor Jana loves the church, science fiction, and coffee.
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