When we pause to extend a sincere word of thanks to another, it is like a tonic. It lifts the heart, brightens the day, and improves the life of the one giving thanks. Try it! Gratitude is powerful.
The inspired Word directs Christians to live differently, walking in love, in light, in wisdom. “Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” (Ephesians 5:2-4, NLT) Let’s think about that closing line.
What does thankfulness have to do with being a loving, pure, morally upright individual?
When we train ourselves to live with an attitude of gratitude, we become God-aware; our mind, our heart open to what He is doing in and around us. In that life that invites an intimacy with the Holy Spirit we live in a way that allows Christlikeness to ‘rub off’ on us, His beauty and character growing in us. Think about a friend with whom you are close. You adopt their phrases, learn to like their food, value what they value, to like what they like. It just happens, sometimes by conscious imitation, more often just because they are around all the time. You can deny it, but it is true.
We are influenced by those that surround us. This is true in our spirit, as well. When we live with a thankful heart, offering praise to God for even the simple things in life, His Presence takes over and we become a ‘friend of God.’ As His friend, we begin to be like Him!
In that Ephesians passage, Paul returns to this theme of praise and thanks as an evidence of the life of the Holy Spirit in us. “Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-20, NIV)
The first directive- Be filled with the Spirit- is written in the present tense. Yesterday’s experience of the goodness of God is great, but no substitute for experiencing His life today.
It is an imperative. The Spirit-filled life is not an option for those who would please God and know all that He has prepared for them. We must be filled with the Spirit.
It is also written in the passive voice. We cannot fill ourselves with the Spirit. He must be received, the gift of Christ Jesus for those who believe.
We need not beg God to give us His Spirit. We don’t have to travel to some far away place or find a special prophet to impart the blessing. We receive Him, by faith, in response to the promise of Jesus. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17, NIV) His life in us is evidenced by fruit of character – love, joy, peace, patience – and a joyful thankfulness that bubbles up in us.
Yesterday the New York Times reported a decline in life expectancy in the US. The article said “For many, daily life lacks the structure, status and meaning that it once had, as the Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have explained. Many people feel less of a connection to an employer, a labor union, a church or community groups. They are less likely to be married. They are more likely to endure chronic pain and to report being unhappy.
These trends have led to a surge of “deaths of despair” (a phrase that Case and Deaton coined), from drugs, alcohol and suicide. Other health problems, including diabetes and strokes, have also surged among the working class. Notably, the class gaps in life expectancy seem to be starker in the U.S. than in most other rich countries.” Despair, resulting from the death of hope, affects physical well-being! I suppose I should not be surprised. Christian, a true life of thankfulness, one that invites God close, that connects meaningfully to others, and that overflows with joy brings health to us as well.
Friend, do you want the joy of the Lord in your life?
Invite Christ to be Lord and Light. Be God-aware, living with an attitude of gratitude, giving thanks. Invite the Holy Spirit to live in you, making Him welcome in your songs and praise.
The word from the Word today –
“The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” (Proverbs 15:29-30, NIV)
I have found His grace is all complete
He supplieth ev’ry need
While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet
I am free yes free indeed
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory
Full of glory full of glory
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory
Oh the half has never yet been told
I have found the pleasure I once craved
It is joy and peace within
What a wondrous blessing I am saved
From the awful gulf of sin
I have found that hope so bright and clear
Living in the realm of grace
Oh the Saviour’s presence is so near
I can see His smiling face
I have found the joy no tongue can tell
How its waves of glory roll
It is like a great o’erflowing well
Springing up within my soul