Psalm 69:30 (ESV):
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
When we begin to contemplate what it means to lead a life of faith, we will very quickly encounter the concept of thankfulness. When we begin to grasp what it means to say that Jesus died for our sins, we begin also to grasp what it means to live out our lives in gratitude. It dawns on us, either through teaching or intuition, that we cannot earn our salvation. Jesus has earned it for us. We need only accept that. Having done so, we might say, "what now, Lord?"
Our heads may not immediately grasp an answer to this question, but our hearts-and the power of the Holy Spirit-will guide us into a life of gratitude.
The whole essence of Christian life might be said to be that of gratitude. We are thankful that we were born. We are thankful for the Bible and its inexhaustible resource of wisdom. We are thankful that Jesus lived among us and spoke to us. And, although it seems terrible to say, we are thankful that Jesus died on the cross, for that is how God in his infinite wisdom created our means of salvation and our promise of everlasting life.
Small wonder, then, that when a book appears that is entitled 365 Thank-yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life, it will catch our attention. This book is not, however, written by a theologian or a pastor. It is written by a lawyer, a particularly troubled lawyer who found himself inspired to write a thank-you note every day for a year to one of his friends, family, business partners, clients or whoever crossed his path and seemed to deserve one. In doing so, he transforms his life. Almost everything changes for the better.
John Kralik does not attempt a perfect explanation of how and why the thank-you notes that he sends are so powerful. He does not offer biblical doctrine as the explanation. He does offer, however, an image of himself as an almost unwilling or unintentional recipient of God's grace. After physically falling over a tree root, he writes:
As I got up, I could see three wooden crosses that had been obscured from view by pine and fir trees planted in the grass in front of the church. I had considered myself something of an atheist for years, but I started going to this church after that fall. ... The dominant message was that grace was still available. To everyone. Even to me.
Thank-you notes transformed Kralik's business and personal relationships for the better. His relationship with his girlfriend is a bit of a puzzle to the reader. Although she appears to be a very positive influence on his life, they do not marry but simply remain friends. The story of Kralik's life does not end, therefore, as a perfect fairy tale or Hollywood movie-but that perhaps also lends credibility to his voice. He has given us a true story of a man discovering the grace of God, rejoicing in it, and then continuing to learn and discover, as we all do. Thank-you, John, for telling us your story! May we all remember to be grateful for the love of God, and may we always desire to share it with our neighbors in countless different ways, including small acts of kindness and courtesy.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the one to come.
In faith and fellowship,
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