I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)
Today and Friday form bookends for Thanksgiving Day in America, and I want to devote our time together to the all-important subject of maintaining an attitude of gratitude in all things and at all times. Saint Augustine once profoundly noted that, in our natural condition, sin has rendered all of us “curved inward,” which makes a life of living thanks much harder than we might think. I want to back to the beginning today, and we’ll complete our study on Friday.
In the beginning, God made everything very good, and that, of course, included mankind, who was made in God’s image. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day, and God had given them every imaginable provision, with only one prohibition: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Made by God, for God, Adam and Eve were to find their identity in God and locate their meaning in His purpose and plan for their lives. As creational caretakers, the borders of their lives extended to the boundaries of God’s creation, and every moment was to be marked by “Thanks-Living,” because our first parents were “curved upward and outward.” But when Adam and Eve believed the lie of the serpent and chose to rebel against God and eat from the forbidden tree, sin separated them from God, causing the curve to turn inward. Thanks-Living turned into living thankless, self-absorbed, and self-centered lives, making community with others difficult and contentment with ourselves impossible.
But God refused to leave mankind in sin, and He promised to send a Savior who would crush the head of the serpent and redirect the natural, sinful curve of our lives from inward to upward and outward again. For those who are in Christ, the curve has been changed and Thanks-Living is possible once again.
But here’s the kicker: Sin no longer reigns in our lives, but it still remains. In the very same way, our inward curve no longer reigns, but it still remains. We must battle against self-absorption and self-centeredness every day of our lives. Where Thanks-Living was natural for Adam and Eve prior to their terrible, traitorous fall, it must be intentional for us because we still have some of that old sinful nature deep inside. As Paul warned the Galatians, “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:17).
Here is a quick exercise for you to do before you get into your Thanksgiving Day celebrations. If you’re a regular reader of Grace for the Race, you know what I’m about to suggest; take a moment to identify your top ten blessings from the beginning of this year and write them down. We do this as a family every Thanksgiving season and share our lists with each other; then I file them all so that we can look back and see just how blessed we truly are. Perhaps you can do this as a family and share your lists together, starting a new Thanksgiving Day tradition, which will help you be intentional about living a life marked by Thanks-Living.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day tomorrow! We will pick this back up on Friday.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!