Friday, November 14, 2008
There was a Citigroup commercial a while back that I still think about and laugh at often. The premise of this commercial is that gratitude and appreciation goes a long way. Citigroup’s slogan is “Live richly” and Citigroup has realized that business and money is not what allows a person to live richly. There is something more; there is something about gratitude. In the commercial one woman meets another woman in the grocery store and thinks that she is pregnant, when in reality she is not. She says to the woman, “You must be having a boy.” The other woman says, “What! I am not pregnant!” Embarrassed, the other woman simply says, “Thank you.” At this the woman melts with joy and the two women hug. She is so overcome with gratitude that she was told “Thank you,” that she forgets all about the awkward interaction between the two of them. The commercial implies that no matter what happens, a simple thank you will fix it. It does not matter if you said something stupid, or made a huge mistake. If you just said to the wronged person, “Thank you,” all would be forgiven and all would be good. Gratitude is powerful and impacts our lives and allows us to live richly. Citigroup knows this and expresses this in their ad campaign.
There is an old expression that says, “Gratitude affects your attitude.” Something does change inside of us if we have grateful hearts toward God and others. We have so much and are so blessed. However, our temptation is much like the temptation of the woman in the commercial. We take immediate offense to any and every way that we are wronged. We look to the flaws and faults of our lives and the lives of others. We move away from the gratitude that will free us, and we are free, especially as followers of Jesus. Jesus says, in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").” We have reason to be grateful. We are liberated in Christ Jesus. We can always utter the words “Thank you.” All is well. We can and do live richly as followers of Jesus. Money does not buy that, and Citigroup cannot give this to you, but Jesus has allowed us to live richly by giving us His riches.
In Colossians 1:3-5, Paul expresses his gratitude toward the church at Colosse.
“Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope (Peterson).”
Paul is grateful for the church in Colosse and he prays for them with gratitude and praises them for their steady faith in Jesus, for their love for other Christians, and their purpose filled lives. This is how we should be as the church. We are to be a grateful people because of the work that Jesus is doing in each of us and through each of us. We should be a praying people, encouraging the work of Christ in each of us, and in the ministry that He has us doing. We have so much to be grateful for.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul echoes his and our need for dependence on prayer and for gratitude. He says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").” Have you ever thought, “Man, I wish I knew God’s will for my life. I wish I knew how to live richly.” Good news is here for you. God wants you to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, and to be thankful. This is God’s will for you.
Now, go and live richly, with gratitude, prayer, and thanksgiving, keeping in mind Paul’s words to the Colossians and Thessalonians.
"The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version." Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.