Now, that's awe-inspiring

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:15-17)

Have you ever been around someone who really has a grateful heart? Their gratitude just comes through in everything they do because it is a lifestyle, not just an attitude. Another word for gratitude is gratefulness. I sometimes call this being "grace-full". Grateful people have a way of exuding grace in some of the most unlikely ways, don't they? God is focusing us on something which keeps people together - "staying in tune with each other". In other words, we don't always choose our own path and just plunge down it without regard for the feelings and needs of another. We call this being "graceful" - there is a "beauty" inherent in the movements of people who are 'grace-full'. They look beyond themselves and see those God has placed in their path. They "give the Word of God room in their lives". What happens when God's Word actually gets into the nooks and crevices of our lives - it challenges us, convinces us, and eventually changes us. We become people full of grace!

A natural outflow of truly experiencing grace in your own life is to develop the complimentary trait of being grateful. Having been deeply affected by the grace of God, we find it affects us deeply and we have to give expression to things which touch us so deeply. If we are in the habit of burying our emotions, this expression of gratitude might be just a little muted, but it is there, nonetheless. Gratitude is really an attitude - it is not something conjured up - it stems from within. Grace moves upon us - gratitude comes from within us. It is the outflow of grace. I think of this as grace priming the pump for a tremendous outflow of amazement, awe, and adoration. Gratitude is the basis of worship - for we truly don't worship what we are not thankful for in our lives. Since gratitude is the basis of worship, we appreciate what we have, so when it is gone, we mourn its loss (we don't have an attitude of gratitude).

Gratitude is really based upon the actions of grace in our lives. As God moves upon us, we experience his movement - the "outflow" should be gratitude. Yet some of us have a tough time with this trait - our attitude kind of stinks. We get into this issue of "comparing" ourselves with others and when we see they "get" something better than we do, or seem to be "getting along" better, we get a little down in the dumps. This is the sad thing about comparing - it changes our attitude toward what it is we DO have! W
e have to "cultivate" this attitude of gratitude - it takes effort to maintain our focus on what God is doing in US and not looking to what he is doing in OTHERS! I can be encouraged by your blessing, but the very moment I begin to cross-over into the space where I start to wonder "why not me", I move into envy. Envy destroys gratitude, and it limits the actions of grace in our lives. It is to be guarded against. "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." (Galatians 6:4-5) Gratitude focuses on the grace we have been given, sinking deeply into the place of appreciating even the smallest hint of its work, and then enjoying it with all the gusto we have. We can be excited about what God is doing in the lives of others - in fact, we are told to celebrate with them. We just need to guard carefully our tendency to then drift into comparing what God is doing there with what he is doing in us! Grace is undeserved - gratitude is an expression of awe at receiving something other than what we deserved! Just sayin!


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