And be thankful…

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:16)

From time to time I’ve seen posts on Facebook entitled “30 Days of Gratitude” or something similar, and each day the person posts something they’re thankful for.

I was reminded of that as I remembered the verse above. “And be thankful,” the apostle Paul says. Why? Why should we be thankful? Why do people post on Facebook something they are grateful for each day?

In his devotional book, Hidden In Christ, James Bryan Smith gives a couple of reasons why we should and some reasons why some folks believe they should.

For instance, are you among those who believe that God is mad at you if you aren’t thankful? Smith gives the example of how we raise our children. When our children receive something, we say to them, “What do you say?” At times, we transfer that thinking to our God, believing that He is looking down at heaven screaming at us, “What do you say?!?” As Smith points out, God is complete in Himself. He doesn’t need anything. He loves us genuinely and with pureness of heart. He requires nothing in return. After all, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Secondly, Smith says, sometimes we mistakenly believe that thankfulness is the “secret ingredient” to prayer, which sways God to answer. We are told to “enter His gates with thanksgiving…” (Psalm 100:4) and “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) However, if we think we can manipulate God, we are missing the point.

No, as the folks who post on Facebook would probably tell you, when you count your blessings, when you find things to be thankful to God for, and when you look at life closely and discover little (and big) things to be grateful about, life begins to come alive, so to speak. Your attitude changes. You begin to savor every day, not taking anything for granted, as you and I sometimes do.

As we see every day through the news and elsewhere, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Life can change in the blink of an eye. Our loved ones here today can be gone tomorrow.

Savor this day. And be thankful.

Today Changes Everything

Today is Good Friday. To me, this is the most meaningful day of the year. Although I really love the reborn exuberance of Easter Sunday and the peace of the Christmas season, this day is where everything changes for me.

This morning as I re-read the account of what happened on this day about 2000 years ago, I was struck at the sacrificial love of Jesus. I recalled the images of “The Passion of the Christ” as I read again about Gethsemane, Jesus’ arrest, and the Crucifixion. What could possibly drive a man to do that?!?

Simply said, LOVE. A new kind of love. A sacrificial love. A love that gave up all His rights and privileges. A love that laid down His life for the sake of others.

That is how we are called to love. That’s how we’re called to live.

Today is the day where the slate is wiped clean, where everything is forgiven, and a fresh start begins. Today is the day when you love those around you with the same, lay-it-all-down kind of love.