Saturday, March 16, 2013

In remembrance of me

Even before the first bite of the forbidden fruit, there was ingratitude. Because we were ungrateful, we wanted to be God rather than obey God. Because we were ungrateful, we believed in the serpent's lies rather than God's instruction.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)
Ingratitude is the root of the first sin.
Ingratitude is, in fact, the root of all sin.

My ungrateful heart seeks after things apart from God. He is not enough for me.
My ungrateful heart disregards God, dismisses his promises. I forget

Not giving thanks is no small thing. Gratitude is not a warm fuzzy feeling. It is more than good manners. More than the five-second prayer before meals. It is more than the obligatory thank-you notes I sent after our wedding, and the lip-service I pay at the end of emails.When I teach my children to say their pleases and thank yous, I am not just teaching them to be polite. I am teaching them a disposition towards life -- how to live rightly. I am teaching them how to worship.

While ingratitude is the root of all sin, gratitude is the beginning of worship. Gratitude is the very posture of God's children. Gratitude is the mark of the Christian. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Having nothing, yet possessing everything (2 Cor 6:10). We lament, yet we give praise. We grieve, yet we give thanks.

Gratitude is our response to what God has done. Because he first loved us, we love and fear him. Gratitude is the fountain from which all else flows: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Transition from two kids to to three kids has been full and happy, but not easy. There are days when tiredness and anxiety cloud my eyes like thick black smoke, distorting reality. This is the battlefield of my sanctification. Here, holding crying babies at 4  in the morning, I am learning to fight against my self-love.

Suddenly, my mind sees the significance of the thanksgiving passages in the gospels, Paul's letters, and the Psalms. Jesus made much of the only leper who remembered to say thank you. The Samaritan came back not merely to be polite.  He was a changed man. He turned and worshiped God.

Thanksgiving marks the climax in many of the David's psalms and Paul's letters. These men were not merely paying lip-service. They gave thanks not because it was in-style or because it was the "right" thing to say. No! They were engaged in battles. Whether they were fleeing from their enemies or sitting in prisons, they were warring against their flesh, waiting upon the Lord.

God has not left his children defenseless. He has given us weapons to fight and shields to resist. In bad times, gratitude guards our mouth from complaining and our hearts from losing hope. In good times, gratitude guards us against the first sin -- pride, vanity, and the desire to be God.

So, sing! Rejoice! Proclaim his amazing grace. Declare in the face of despair that Jesus has conquered sin and death.

Thank you Lord for the Gospel. Thank you Lord for upholding all things in your hands. Thank you Lord for my children, my husband. Thank you Lord for you have not left me an orphan. Thank you Lord for you have not left my children orphans. Thank you Lord for giving us to each other. Thank you Lord for giving yourself to us.

It begins by remembering.

Jesus gave his disciples a ritual on the night he was betrayed. It is no coincidence that the early church called it the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving in Greek.  This is my body broken for you. This is my blood that was shed for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Mess-free finger painting. I wrapped the paint and paper under a sheet of plastic. =)


Swansea said...

thank you, irene. this was a blessing to read ^_______^ i've been struggling with accepting God's love, not remembering and not being satisfied in Him.

thanks for the reminder. love you dearly ♥

Irene Sun said...

Hearing from you means a lot to me. Thank you for your love.

chanelle said...

What a beautiful reminder, Irene. My heart needed this today! Also, neat idea with the finger paint. You are a wonder woman, no?

Irene Sun said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Chanelle. I am very grateful to know you, and that we are friends. =)

I thought of you today while I was eating spring rolls with mixed greens, carnitas, and homemade honey-mustard dressing. I miss your scones, and clotted cream. =)

Sharon said...

Irene, it seriously takes me a week or two to even digest what you write! (That's a testament-- either to how profound you are or how slow I am; or to both, haha! ...ha) But how true this is: how easily I become ungrateful, and how easily I let myself be convinced that the inward whining is "okay"! I wholeheartedly agree when you mention that thanksgiving isn't just "lip-service"; true thanksgiving is, indeed, war. I'm realizing more and more that the Book of Psalms isn't only a book of songs... this is an intense book, filled with battles of the heart. The psalmists were dying to themselves--dying to their thoughts, their selfish desires, their plans-- they were, as you put it, waging war on their own flesh and turning to worship the Lord. Thank you for similarly pointing the way to worshiping the Lord by way of remembering Him.