Gratefulness is a Call to Action - Rev. Mark Taylor

Colossians 3:17
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.

When was the last time you were intentionally grateful? I don’t mean giving thanks before a meal, saying thank you to the person who held the door for you, or even the prayer of thanks I uttered the other day for finally being able to find the keys a certain toddler may or may not have stuffed in the couch cushions. No, I mean when was the last time you really were intentional about living the entirety of your life with gratefulness?

How do we go about living a grateful life? Do we even know what that looks like? I recently read an article on grateful living that got me thinking about how this plays out in our daily lives.[i] We live in a crazy, busy, self-absorbed society. This is certainly not a new development, nor should it come as a surprise to any of us. Yet through the development of modern technology, communication, and the astoundingly easy access to news, we have no choice in many ways, but to deal with these facts, perhaps more than we would like.

In a world filled with noise, it is hard to live a grateful life. We are faced with questions such as, “How can we make a difference in the world?” and, “How can we care for the least of these without neglecting ourselves when there are so many people who need our help?” The article I read suggests a three-pronged approach to grateful living: STOP, LOOK, and GO.

Many of us have a tendency to act reflexively to the situations in which we might find ourselves. Grateful living invites us to pause and consider instead of simply reacting. By intentionally stopping, we allow ourselves to connect with that which is truly important to our core selves. What values and principles are so important to us that they are a part of our very being? In what ways are we taking those things for granted? In what ways are we neglecting those areas? In short, we STOP to become grounded and to gain perspective.

The second piece of grateful living is LOOK. This is an invitation to notice our surroundings and our opportunities. Remember the values and principles that are a part of our very core? Where are we seeing those lived out? What opportunities allow us to focus more on those areas? Finally, we also must look outside of ourselves at others who have gone before us and to those who walk beside us. What can we learn from them? How can they be a source of hope to us? We are not alone in this life.

The remaining piece of grateful living is to GO. We have identified those things about which we are most passionate. We have found clarity and companionship, so now is the time to take action. The amazing thing about identifying the things for which we are most grateful is that taking action in those areas can be invigorating and be a source of unexpected energy.

Grateful living calls each of us to a greater level of consciousness. It is not merely a reflective act, but a call to action. It is an invitation to identify and act upon those things we hold most dear. Let’s be intentional about living a grateful life.

Creator God, teach us to live with intentional gratefulness; not to react, but to focus on the passions you have given to each one of us and the actions you are calling us to take.

[i] Kristi Nelson, Standing our Sacred, Grateful Ground, A Network for Grateful Living.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Jack Mehoff wrote:
Jesus was a liberal. The word is defined by having an open mind, by seeking to "liberate" beyond the status quo. Jesus abandoned the orthodox rules of the Jews, he admonished the status quo of economic and political hierarchy. He rejected greed, he often admonished violence, he hated the glorification of power, despised the amassing of wealth and hated social injustice. Jesus spoke against the personal judging of others, he repeatedly asked his followers to live a life based on ethics that for his time were absolutely revolutionary concerning compassion, love, tolerance and generosity. Jesus was against those who wanted to "conserve" things as they were, and it’s amazing to me that 2,000 years after he supposedly lived, those who claim to be his beloved still try to conserve the capitalist system which they KNOW is responsible for so much poverty & repression. If someone wants to be a capitalist, that's fine, but I won't hear from them how they are simultaneously a Christian, because, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money" (Matthew 6:24).

The idea of Christian socialism has a long and proud tradition. As capitalism emerged in the mid-1800s, many of its fiercest critics based their ideas on Jesus’ teachings.

“No one can serve two masters,” Jesus says in Matthew 6:24. “Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

In Luke 12:15, Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Jesus not only urged people to be kind to others in their everyday lives. He was also talking about those in government who ruled over others, including the priests who ruled Judea for Rome and the rulers of the Roman empire.

Luke 12 displays a Jesus delivering parables of a successful businessman. He is so successful that he cannot find enough room for all of his harvest. So the wealthy business man undertakes a massive building project to protect his wealth and plan an early retirement. The "Christian" culture of America would say this man is a success, for the man did what we are told to do all the time: expand, invest, and use for personal benefit. So why does Jesus in his parable consider this an antithesis to success? He instead says God considers this man a "fool" BECAUSE he only used his wealth for his "own" benefit. Jesus goes on to admonish the selfishness and lack of communalism of the businessman. In ultimate renunciation of the man, Jesus advocates the man should have redistributed his wealth to the poor!

There are countless Biblical stories that match the evil "socialist" economic ethic, such as the story of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector, which, so illuminating, is found in Luke 19:1-10: Zacchaeus gives half of his wealth and pays back four times what he has defrauded. He has put his own wealth and honor in jeopardy in order to benefit his neighbors and his community. Additionally, Luke 16 contains the story of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man eats wonderful food and dresses in the finest clothes. Lazarus sits outside of his gates and waits for the scraps from his table. Both men die. The rich man lands in torment and Lazarus at Abraham's side. The rich man's sin, was ignoring the suffering of the poor. He thought of his wealth as his own and the poverty and suffering of others as having no connection to him. This view of the world lands him in torment. How can anyone read these things and then claim Jesus would back a system that propagates a personal/private view of wealth? Both characters in these stories are punished because they only thought of themselves and their wealth!

"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God" - Luke 6:20-26

"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that will come upon you. Your wealth will rot, and moths will eat your clothes. For your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You who have hoarded wealth in the last days!" - James 5:1-3

"How terrible for you who are rich now, for you have had your easy life and will get no more..." - Luke 6:24

"But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." - Luke 14:13-14

In further reassertion, take one simple glance into Matthew 19:21-24: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also [...] Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'"

"He is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain" - 1 Timothy 6:4-5

And on a final last note from Jordan: If nothing else, before raging "Christian" conservatives try to slam the iron hand of their political schemes upon the entire country, perhaps just ONE peak at the following Scripture can miraculously inspire their empty heads to search for what Charlotte has already so impressively shone a spotlight on:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'" (Matthew 25:40).

Thu, March 22, 2018 @ 1:21 PM

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.