Gravy, Gravity, and Gratitude

Thanksgiving is now behind us…in more than one way!

I haven’t stepped on the bathroom scale to do the damage assessment yet.  I kind of figure it makes sense to let things sort of settle out before I formally renegotiate with Mr. Gravity.  It’s  like being upside-down in your mortgage.  You wonder if you’ll ever have any equity in the arrangement!

Yes, it seems that gravy and gravity go together.  It’s a law of physics.

If only the pounds would go away as fast as the gratitude does!

As much as we talk about the importance of gratefulness and giving thanks and being gracious…somehow in our busyness and shallowness we simply move on with our schedules and lives.  And gratitude seems to evaporate.

I’m praying that this year will be different.  Actually, I have faith that it will be different.  This is because I believe my heart was deeply impacted by the Holy Spirit this time around.  So in an effort to see that gratitude becomes an enduring attribute in my life (and possibly yours as well), I want to do a couple of posts this week to rehearse some of the things God brought home to my heart during this Thanksgiving season.

1. Gratitude springs from mercy received.  That is, it’s only as you see your blessings as undeserved that you feel real gratitude.  If you think you deserve the blessings you may feel happy and prosperous and even temporarily content.  But you will not be overflowing with gratitude.

If you are a real Christ-follower, then you should realize that you didn’t choose Him, He chose you.  And the same merciful Christ who opened your eyes to see your need of Him, graciously forgave your sins and gave you His Spirit to dwell in you.  The Saviour could just as easily have passed you by.  He was not obligated to deal so mercifully with a known rebel like you (or me!). 

Why did only one of the ten lepers return to give Jesus thanks?  As a Samaritan “outsider”, he deeply realized that he was treated far better than he had any right to expect.  It was mercy.  The nine somehow felt they had it coming.  Perhaps they believed God finally made things right for them.  Regardless, they didn’t have a deeply grateful response.

2. Where entitlement grows gratitude shrinks. This thought closely follows the previous one.  The more I think that I am owed something, the more likely that I will NOT be grateful when I receive it.  The more affluent a people becomes, the more that a spirit of entitlement will try to creep in.  This is a law of human nature.  Sadly, our country has become a cesspool of entitlement…on both the left and the right.  Greed and entitlement can be blamed for our country’s financial mess. 

The “land of opportunity” has become the “land of entitlement”.  Earlier generations of Americans saw this land as a place where they had a chance to make it, if they worked hard and disciplined themselves and saved and lived wisely and prayed. 

Many younger Americans today feel disillusioned about this.  Part of this hopelessness is that they have assumed they have a right to a nice job and salary because they borrowed money and got a college degree. It should be easy, like everything else has been. This is entitlement.

But there’s also this feeling among Americans today that the government bails out the fat cats on Wall Street (by the billions of dollars) and leaves the ordinary citizens to fend for themselves.  Somebody explain to me how this is not entitlements for those at the top of the food chain?  

Somehow, I don’t think any of this is what the founders intended.

I love America.  It’s my home.  I’m here because I want to be here.  But the Bill of Rights was never intended to be a Bill of Entitlements.  Our constitution doesn’t guarantee anyone (or everyone) success.  It doesn’t guarantee that those with money and power will be generous and unselfishly concerned for others.  Nor does it guarantee that those without money and power will be handed it by others.  

(To be continued in the next post…)

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