The Weekly Epistle 11/1/23

Hi Church,
What major holiday follows Halloween? If you took your cues from stores, decorated houses, and listened in on conversations, you would answer, “Christmas.” What about Thanksgiving? Do we jump over that Holiday? 

If you were to take your cues from the Bible and the number of times the word, “thanks,” or “gratitude” occur, you would say that Thanksgiving is a holiday we should make a big deal about. One of the more repeated commands in the Bible is to, “give thanks.” 

While you could contend convincingly that the root of sin is pride and trying to live independent of God, I would ask you to consider another possible root. I would argue that the root of all sin is thanklessness. In Romans chapter 1, in describing the downward spiral of man’s depravity, the start of that downward descent is thanklessness. Preceding a sinful choice is a thankless heart. 

Go with me to the Garden of Eden. Eve has all the good she would ever need. Consider all her “haves.” She had uninterrupted fellowship with God, unhindered intimacy with her spouse, perfect environment, beautiful surroundings, unpolluted air, no smog, crisp skies, meaningful work, and tasty fruit with no pesticides. All of it was hers to enjoy. She could eat from any of the trees around. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from that one tree.” A good God said that! 

What happened? Her eyes obsessed on her one “have not.” She has all the good she would ever need, and she focuses on the one have not. She fixated on one tree. 

“I do have a wonderful marriage, but…” The one tree. “I am blessed with a good job, but…” The one tree. “God has given me this ability and talent, but…” The one tree. This is a wonderful church, but…the one tree. 

Once our focus shifts away from all that we do have to the single thing we so desperately want we’ll do anything to get, it becomes our obsession in life and our downfall. Even if we have all the good we would ever need we would want more. Preceding a sinful choice is a thankless heart. Check that principle out this week in your life. 

Is your life characterized by thankfulness? Are you enjoying God’s gifts? As C.S. Lewis so aptly put it, “people who praise most are those who enjoy life most.” 

I am not talking about faking it or living in denial or even being thankful for the trial itself, or about tacking on “praise the Lord” at the end of each sentence, but to live with a quiet, inner contentment that all is well because God is good, only good, and always good! 

Is it your practice to give thanks? And not the kind of thanks a young child is forced to give his grandma after getting a sweater instead of some toy. God calls us to see His all-sufficient grace and good gifts amidst the circumstances of life that sadden, disappoint, and anger us. It is to see a God who is good, only good, and always good. It is to fixate on what we have rather than our have nots. 

Give Thanks! Don’t forget to sign up for our “give thanks potluck” that will take place on November 19. 

Learning to give thanks in all things, Pastor Brian