Monday, 30 November 2020
Thanksgiving is over - time to stop being thankful?
We trust you have all had a wonderful thanksgiving and had an opportunity to truly give thanks for the challenging and exciting chaos of this year. We know that the Lord is faithful "For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise The Lord!" (Psa 117:2 ESV).
We have spoken of thanksgiving and being grateful many times before. We know that being grateful and living with thankfulness is part of who we are meant to be. It also helps ready us to be aware of God's presence in our worship and in our lives.
It is also important to really know what it means to say that we thank God for his grace. If God's grace on us includes the idea of us being special to him, we must understand what that means.
Thanking God because he has shown us that we are special to him includes so many things. It does include the idea and process of salvation through Yeshua. This of course means we are saying we are thankful that we have been given forgiveness. We are saying that we are thankful that we have been justified. But, when we say we are thankful for God's grace we are including our full identity in Yeshua.
The idea is that we are thanking God that he wants to be with us and that we are special to him. This attitude is meant to remind us, even as approach God in prayer, that we didn't do something to secure our place. Rather, all we did was recognize and accept that we are special to God.
In Luke 18:9 we are reminded of the prayer of the pharisee and tax collector. This idea of thanking God that we are special to him may remind us of the prayers of these men. But, in that Luke 18 prayer we see a religious leader saying that he made his own identity such that his behavior was merely the result of making in all the right choices. And, he isn't like the other guy who has made the wrong choices.
Sometimes it's good to remember that we could have just as easily made the wrong choices. Those choices are not what resulted in us being special to God.
Knowing that we are participating, by acceptance, in God's plan to demonstrate that we are special to him, creates in us an identity that reflects our connection to Him through Yeshua. Thus, when we show grace to others, that is show others that they are special to us, (not because of a result of their choices) we are participating in God's plan of salvation in a way that shows we love our neighbor as ourselves. Because - it's not what the neighbor did that makes us love him.
This is worlds apart from the idea that our identity is merely one who is "a sinner saved by grace" (I used that phrase because it's most common. But, there are a bunch that often get used to mean the same thing.) There is no identity pressure to demonstrate who we are by loving others. Instead, by thinking of ourselves as merely "sinners saved by grace" we find freedom to separate ourselves from our identity in Yeshua.
One last thing ... it should be evident, but sin doesn't have to be excused or ignored merely because we are showing grace to others.
So, even though the holiday of Thanksgiving is over, we can remain obedient to Yeshua's commandments to love others by thanking God for His grace.
Daniel and Berelyn,