And The Most Thankful Person Is . . .

First_Thanksgiving_in_AmericaJesus told a story once about two people who owed money. The first was in the hole for the equivalent of 500 days worth of wages and the second a tenth of that, but neither could pay what they owed.

The thing is, the moneylender forgave both their debts. Jesus then asked the key question: Which of the two will love him the most? The man Jesus was talking to answered, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

Bingo! Right answer.

A person who’s drowning and the person who’s arms are tired but who is still a mile from shore are both in need of rescue. However, the former will be overwhelmed with gratitude because he knows how truly great his need was. The second guy still had options. He could float on his back for a while, for instance, or ride a wave or rest his arms and simply kick. He wants to be rescued; his glad, relieved even, when he is. And thankful.

But the guy overwhelmed by the waves and on his way down for the last time, with no more strength to fight—well, there’s no end to his gratitude when he’s rescued. He loves much.

Here in the US we’re approaching Thanksgiving Day, but you’d hardly know it. On Twitter and Facebook the topics that are trending are Black Friday and Ferguson. The latter refers to the center of unrest generated in response to the grand jury deciding not indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown last August. Black Friday refers to the day-after-Thanksgiving sales that will help retail stores finish the year in the black.

Happy Thanksgiving, but first let’s loot and burn stores that had nothing to do with the events last August.

Happy Thanksgiving, now excuse me while I rush to the story to push and shove my way to the best sales I can find.

I’d say off hand, Americans as a group don’t love much. We’ve been given so much, but we’re blind to the freedom and opportunity we enjoy. We think we’re oppressed and disadvantaged, but few of us are. Our thanksgiving is cursory, more like lip service than genuine, heart-felt gratitude.

Those who love much are likely those who have lived in want or in fear. When someone gives them a job or gives blood to help them survive Ebola or gives their son a soccer ball and a note when they can’t do so themselves because they’re in prison—these people love much. They know what thanksgiving means.

Thanksgiving is a mindset. We can choose to be thankful or we can choose to take what we have for granted and focus on what we want instead of what we have.

Much of this choice depends on our view of God and His goodness and sovereignty. If God is good, then the gifts He gives are good, though we may not always realize in what way they can be so classified.

As it happens, I don’t believe all things are good. They aren’t. When a surgeon working in Sierra Leone contracted Ebola and died, I wouldn’t categorize that as good. When Jim Elliott and the missionaries with him were killed, that act was murder and evil, not good.

But God is bigger than the circumstances and He can make from the evil that which is a good beyond our comprehension. Consequentially we can always be thankful—not for stuff but for God who is faithful, who loves righteousness and justice and lovingkindness.

So who is the most thankful person? I think the person who sees and understands who God is and what we have when we have Jesus Christ who came to save us. When you’re rescued, eternally rescued and safe, you have a lot to be thankful for.

Published in: on November 25, 2014 at 7:13 pm  Comments (1)  
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