Gratitude: Is It the Main Course or a Side Dish?

imagesOn Thursday of this week we will observe a day of Thanksgiving; however, the spiritual discipline of giving thanks was practiced long before the Pilgrims found their way into the pages of history.

As you mull the meaning of thankfulness,  give more than just a wink of contemplation to the contrast below:

  • Psalm 50:23: He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me.
  • Romans 1:21: Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
  • One focuses on solemn reflection leading to respect, while the other speaks of rejection and neglect

When you consider the knee-buckling-goodness of God, your response should be more than a blasé yawn—it should be shout-it-from-the-mountain-top-gratitude.

Henri Nouwen has said, “The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”

Gratitude and thanksgiving are like identical twins–they are so similar it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.  Gratitude is the manifestation of kindness perceived, and thanksgiving is the expression of kindness received.

Paul encourages us to abound in thanksgiving:  “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7).”80506764d4f9bef09a9cd171e8a6bf24

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul expresses his gratitude and unabashed appreciation:  “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now (Philippians 1:3–5).”

What stirs a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving in your heart?  Have you called the person or written them a letter to express your appreciation?  Why not do it now?

#3 is #1 With Me

We are indebted to the Apostle Paul for a large part of the New Testament.  One of my favorite chapters is the third chapter of Colossians.  As I read it again last night, several words came to mind:

  • Direction—Seek those things which are above, where Christ is
  • Affection—Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth
  • Rejection—Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry
  • Detection—Put off the old man with his deeds
  • Reflection—Put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him
  • Projection—Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful
  • Perfection—Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection . . . whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

I hope these seven words will help you reflect on the wonderful principles in this chapter that’s full of wonder.

Hidden Beauty

061229_Liberty_Head_nickelWith the recent volatility of the stock market, and all of its ups and downs, I discovered an interesting story while studying finances.

Even though the prices of both gold and silver have fallen over the last year, the price of a particular group of nickels has not declined in value. This 5 cent group of 1913 Liberty Head “V” nickels have held their value because only five of them exist.

George Walton owned one of these nickles, and his was sold by Heritage Auctions in April 2013 for a then-record $3.1 million. Walton had purchased his nickle in 1945 for $3,750. Convinced that he had just purchased a rare treasure, Walton had the coin appraised; however, the nickel was rejected as a fake.

Walton still saw the beauty and the value in the coin, so he kept it in his coin collection. About 20 years later, Walton was on the way to a coin show, but was killed when his car was struck by a drunk driver.

In 2003, a family member took the coin to the 2003 ANA World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore, where experts authenticated it as 1 of only 5 of the rare nickels known to exist. In 2013, Walton’s 1913 Liberty Head “V” Nickel sold for $3.1 million.

Some people spend their lives in a currency of criticism. They never see the silver lining in any cloud. Instead of seeing beauty marks, they see every wrinkle on a person’s face. Their life is a constant focus on the negative instead of the positive.

Then, there are the George Waltons of the world. They see the beauty that no one else sees, and they embrace a value that is cheapened by their peers. Instead of being consumed by the darkness of negativity, they find the light and walk in it.

When you look at your family and friends, what do you see: A bunch of plugged nickels or 1913 Liberty Head “V” Nickels that are worth millions?