Giving Thanks
November 30 2010 by Bill Wilson

Healthy Christians are people of gratitude and generosity. That is a clear biblical truth that has been lived out across the years in church history. If the gospel has not penetrated a person’s heart to the point that they are profoundly grateful, then a key ingredient in salvation is missing. Zaccaheus is more than the subject of a cute children’s song, he is the personification of what happens when Jesus takes up residence in one’s heart. Old self-centered habits are replaced with a generous spirit whose gratitude is manifest in visible and life-changing ways.

Every November, Thanksgiving serves to remind us that we have the ability to live out a grateful and generous lifestyle year-round. Many of us come away from the Thanksgiving experience determined to be more thankful and more generous in the days ahead. Too often, that resolve is quickly forgotten in the rush and stress of our hectic lives. Other times, it is overwhelmed by the harsh reality of difficult circumstances in our life that evoke anything but gratitude from us.

I remember one bewildered church member sharing with me his frustration with the expectation from scripture to be thankful for all things. He had experienced quite a few heartbreaks, and was wondering how God could possible expect him to maintain a grateful heart in the midst of his travails. I encouraged him to go back and re-examine the biblical text and see exactly what it said. I suggested he start with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Our next conversation centered around the monumental difference between being thankful FOR all things and being thankful IN all things. Somewhere along the line, he said, he had been led to believe that the proper Christian response to difficulties in life was an extra measure of gratitude for the obstacle placed in one’s path. As he recounted, such an attitude was proving impossible to hold. Instead, as the scripture clearly suggested, our gratitude is in the midst of whatever life brings, but may not necessarily be for the event itself. It was a breakthrough insight for him, and years later he continues to remind me of the day he learned to be grateful IN, not FOR, all things in his life experience.

Such insight may well be the secret to maintaining a thankful heart beyond the holiday devoted to giving thanks. An attitude of gratitude that focuses on the provisions and goodness of God, even in the midst of hardship, is what scripture teaches. A deep trust that God is at work in all things for good can inspire us to remain grateful in the midst of economic downturns, tragedies, illnesses, and even in the face of death.

Congregations can cultivate such a healthy, mature faith by telling the stories over and over of how God provides what we need when we need it. Your story of God’s providence in your life encourages me to believe that such a thing might actually happen to me. We can remind one another that with God, there is always enough of everything. Abundance, not scarcity, is God’s trademark. Much like the fish and the loaves, he supplies what we need in ways that mystify and inspire us.

I am increasingly convinced that whenever I find a church or person doing great things for the kingdom, there is inevitably an underlying spirit of gratitude and generosity to be found. I hope you will be that kind of person in the year to come. I hope you are part of such a group of people. If not, why not be the one who turns the tide toward these foundational spiritual traits?

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Wilson is president of the Center for Congregational Health.)    
11/30/2010 2:20:00 AM by Bill Wilson | with 17 comments




Comments
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12/24/2010 7:20:50 AM
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12/23/2010 1:13:54 PM
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12/18/2010 4:10:18 PM
Fernanda
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12/9/2010 7:59:54 PM
Bernarda Bloschichak
In between me and my husband we've owned a lot more MP3 players over the years than I can count, such as Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, and so on. But, the final couple of years I've settled down to 1 line of players. Why? Due to the fact I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.
12/7/2010 12:57:04 AM
Julius Hessenthaler
If you're nonetheless on the fence: grab your preferred earphones, head down to a Greatest Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you'll know which is correct for you.
12/7/2010 12:31:59 AM
Daniella Pistoresi
I'll gear this review to 2 types of people: present Zune owners who are contemplating an upgrade, and people attempting to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you adequate info to make an informed selection of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as nicely.)
12/7/2010 12:31:58 AM
Selina Brunckhorst
Sorry for the massive review, but I'm really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the superb critiques some other individuals have written, will aid you determine if it's the right option for you.
12/7/2010 12:21:49 AM
Gail Starowitz
If you're nonetheless on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Greatest Purchase and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds far better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you'll know which is correct for you.
12/7/2010 12:21:05 AM
Donny Roat
The Zune concentrates on becoming a Portable Media Player. Not a internet browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it'll do even much better in those areas, but for now it's a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod's strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, possibly it is your very best selection.
12/6/2010 3:09:51 PM
Annice Fieldman
The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as great as the iPod's. It functions properly, but isn't as quickly as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on making use of the internet browser that's not an problem, but if you're planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod's larger screen and much better browser might be crucial.
12/6/2010 3:09:14 PM
Erin Shutte
Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a fantastic start, but it is at present hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a large plus in Zune Pass' favor.
12/6/2010 2:59:07 PM
Denna Uriarte
I'll gear this review to 2 kinds of individuals: present Zune owners who are thinking about an upgrade, and individuals attempting to decide in between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth contemplating out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this offers you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as properly.)
12/6/2010 2:58:33 PM
Moses Bayer
The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a net browser. Not a game machine. Possibly in the future it'll do even far better in those areas, but for now it's a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is with out peer in that regard. The iPod's strengths are its internet browsing and apps. If those sound a lot more compelling, possibly it is your very best option.
12/6/2010 2:48:56 PM
Norine Alvanas
Sorry for the massive review, but I'm truly loving the new Zune, and hope this, as nicely as the excellent reviews some other individuals have written, will assist you choose if it's the right option for you.
12/6/2010 2:48:56 PM
Ezekiel Nicolet
In between me and my husband we've owned much more MP3 players over the years than I can count, which includes Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, and so forth. But, the last few years I've settled down to 1 line of players. Why? Because I was pleased to discover how properly-created and enjoyable to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.
12/6/2010 2:48:34 PM
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