Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness--A Life and Death Issue

{Disclaimer: I recognize that a great portion of my posts are extremely sarcastic in nature. This is not one of those posts. I do have a serious, and sometimes a somewhat inspirationally motivating message for you, my dear Banana Pants readers. So sit back and soak in some seriousness for a moment with me. We will get back to our regularly scheduled doses of sarcasm and snide remarks momentarily. But today is a day of reflection and personal growth for me. I'd love it if you'd tag along. . . }

I realized during my 30 Days of Thankfulness campaign that I haven't given a ton of thought in the past few months on things that I take for granted. I know a few of the items on my list are rather “off-the-wall”, but I'm still thankful for them, all the same. It's amazing how much of the everyday simple things we forget to be grateful for. I can say all day that I am thankful for my family and friends and relationship with God, but I'm realizing that that attitude of thankfulness is not always clearly evident in my everyday life.

I've done a bit more studying lately as to how to better have that lifestyle of appreciation to God. I've found out some simple, yet hidden truths about thankfulness that I had overlooked up until now. I'd like to share what I've come up with, if you all can bear with me through my rambling. I promise it will be worth it. Jesus always is.

Paul says, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).

(Well, there goes my plans of turkey consumption!)  What he means is that the kingdom of God isn’t about rules and regulations, about what you should eat or drink or anything else. It’s about receiving righteousness, peace, and joy through the Holy Spirit.

All of those things are gifts. He’s saying the kingdom of God is like a stack of presents, wrapped up with nice big bows, waiting under the Christmas tree for us. And the degree to which we will experience the kingdom of God is the degree to which we have accepted those gifts and appreciated those gifts.

Paul makes the same point in another letter. He starts with this challenge:

Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place. (Eph 5:3-4)

Now, wait a minute. I know it seems like we’re still talking about rules and regulations: “Keep your pants on… keep your mind out of the gutter… keep your mouth closed… keep your hands off of other people’s stuff.” But Paul’s going to take a left turn here. Look at what he says in the rest of the verse:

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Eph 5:4)

Let there be… thanksgiving! That’s not at all what I was expecting him to say, the first time I read it.

I was expecting him to say “let there be holiness,” or “let there be purity.” But he’s going a lot deeper than that.

He’s saying the reason why we’re sexually immoral, and impure, and greedy, and filthy and silly and crude….. the REASON why we are big-time sinners is because we think we deserve certain things in life, and we don’t think God’s giving them to us.

We think we deserve sex, so we grab it on our own terms. We think we deserve comfortable lives, so we get greedy and grab stuff to make us happy.
We’re not thankful for the things God’s already given us. He’s the Father who loves to give good gifts, and if we were thankful for those gifts, we wouldn’t feel the need to grab more. Instead we’d say, “God’s given me everything I need… why would I turn my back on him for a few more trinkets and toys?”

Because there’s also the flip side in the very next verse:

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Eph 5:5)

He’s saying that the thing driving all those desires is idolatry, worshiping other things more than we worship God. We might treasure Christ a little bit, but we treasure something else more. We might believe in Jesus, but we serve something else to get our immediate desires fulfilled.

Here’s the thing: the Kingdom of God isn’t just about believing in Jesus. Every homeless drug addict I’ve met on the streets of Bricktown believes in Jesus. Every guy I’ve talked to at a bar who is struggling with a porn habit believes in Jesus. Every married couple I've ever known, who are roommates but not lovers,who feel like God tricked them into marrying this person and cheated them out of a happy marriage… they all believe.

The problem is not that they don’t believe in Jesus, the problem is that they’re not thankful for the things Jesus has already given them. Things like righteousness, peace, and joy through the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s saying that unthankfulness is what leads us to idolatry, and idolaters have “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

Thankfulness is a life-or-death issue. This week, especially this Thanksgiving thank God loudly and boldly for what he gave you on the cross through Jesus Christ, and what he gives you every day through his Holy Spirit. I know that I will be doing the same thing.

Happy Holidays, friends!


  1. My friend sent me your way and I'm glad she did. I have three boys and am an aspiring writer too. Thanks for this post. I really enjoyed it.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Christine! I really appreciate it!