A message from our Minister, The Rev Dr Neil Dougall - June 2018
Saying ‘thank you’ is a smart thing to do. If you thank someone for what they’ve done, they’re more likely to be willing to do something else. If you express appreciation when someone gives you a gift, they’re more likely to be generous again.
If we think only of self-interest then expressing gratitude is a habit worth developing.
For Christians, though, being grateful is much, much deeper than this. Dennis Voskuil says, ‘Gratitude is a way of life, a disposition, an attitude, a response to the grace of God revealed through Jesus Christ’*.
This perspective on gratitude comes through clearly in Paul’s letters. For example, at the beginning of Romans he says, ‘I am a debtor both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish’ (1:14).
When you say you are in someone’s debt, it’s usually because they’ve done something to help you. For example, imagine your heating breaks down. An engineer offers to come the next day. On the one hand, you’re delighted they can come so quickly. On the other, you’ve got to be somewhere else. You can’t be in two places at one time. While you’re trying to work out what to do a friend says, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll sit in your house and wait for the engineer to come’. Naturally, you feel indebted to them.
What had the Greeks and non-Greeks, the wise and the foolish done for Paul? How was he in debt to them?
He wasn’t. They’d not done anything in particular for him.
God had, however.
Paul had an overwhelming sense that God had saved and rescued him. God had given freely and generously to Paul.
Paul had received more from God than he could ever have hoped for.
John Newton captured what Paul felt in his famous hymn.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.
Paul believed he’d received from God more than he could ever repay. This made him describe himself as a debtor.
It created within him a sense of obligation. He could no longer live for himself.
He had no option but to live for God. He had no choice but to give his life in service to others.
For Christians gratitude is much more than enlightened self-interest. It is an obligation.
God have given us so much. Jesus has done so much for us. The Holy Spirit continues to help us.
What else can we do but live grateful lives?
Gratitude is expressed in many ways. An attitude of gratitude is seen both in words and in actions.
Our annual gift day give us an opportunity to express our gratitude in a tangible way.
Half the money raised will go towards replacing the lifts in our church building
and the other half will be given away. Please consider expressing your gratitude to God by giving generously.
* The Three Tasks of Leadership E Jacobsen (ed), 2009, p 181.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart. (Psalm 9:1 )
To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.
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