Today Pastor Choi talks about one of the marks of believers in Christ: gratitude. Taking the examples of Jesus our Lord and Savior, he exhorts God’s people to practice thankfulness in all circumstances by Doing of Thankings (D.O.T. 20) every day.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Overflowing with Thankfulness Colossians 2:6-7
Colossians 2:6-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as youwere instructed, and overflowingwith gratitude.
Overflowing with gratitude is a sure sign of mature Christian. Likewise, overflowing with ungratefulness is a sure sign of immature Christian. Let me explain to you what I mean by overflowing.
Imagine you are headed out to work one morning. Of course, you are one of those folks who need coffee in the morning to start the day. You are a Starbucks fan, so you walk into the store to get a cup of coffee. The smell of your favorite coffee begins to wake you up. You slowly take a sip and it tastes heavenly. It is so good. Then, something happens. On your way out, someone coming in, by accident, bumps into you and, alas, you spill your coffee—all of it! Thank God, it wasn’t that hot! But, the coffee spilled all over on you, on the other person as well, and all of it.
That’s the image of overflowing. As you live out your faith, thankfulness is bound to spill over from you and it gives away what kind of believer who you are.
Are you one with gratitude?
Imagine you ran into a friend at Shoprite. She has been a believer in Christ for years. After a few minutes of conversation, you begin to notice something different in her. Somehow her words and her attitude catch your attention. She is going through chemo treatments for cancer, yet you notice that she doesn’t complain at all to God or to anybody. In fact, you are quietly shocked to see her calmness considering what she is going through. She even thanks God for her cancer because, she says, it set her priorities straight. Her words of gratitude overflow from her. Frankly, you are so impressed with her attitude of gratitude that you want to be like her. You want to find out the secrets of her calmness and of her attitude of gratitude.
Sadly, the story I just shared with you seems rather a remote possibility to most of us. In reality, we encounter our brothers and sisters in Christ who often whine and complain about things in life. Certain words that come out of their mouths or their attitude on life in general make us wonder about them being a believer in Christ let alone we want to be like them. E.g. Once at the Annual Conference, I served as usher. My job was to direct the hungry crowd (over 1000 people) to their tables at lunch time. In the auditorium over 100 tables were set up with each table of 10 chairs. As the rush began, for a better traffic, I directed the first comers to the tables at the farthest corners. Most of them were cooperative, but occasionally some individuals clearly let me hear their whining, “Why can’t I sit right here?!”
Had you been one of the people guided by me, would you have been thankfully following my directions to walk another 50 yards to the corner so that everyone else would be served on time or would you have been one of those whiners?
Let me bring Jesus in here. Imagine you had the privilege of accompanying Him one day. Standing next to Him, you watch everything He does. You also hear all the wonderful lessons from Him. At the end of the day, you are on your way home. You think about what kind of person Jesus is. You try to use one word or two to describe Him such as grace, love, compassion, wisdom, miracle worker, teacher, righteous anger, justice, etc.
We may have no trouble coming up with one or two images of Jesus right away, but seldom would we catch the image of Jesus the grateful: the Jesus who was overflowing with thanksgiving.
Three things come to my mind when it comes down to Jesus the grateful. First, His prayers at the Last Supper—the first Eucharist ever in history that He initiated with His disciples the night before His crucifixion. He broke the bread at the table with words of “thanks” to God. The second image that comes to my mind is this: when He fed the crowds of over 5000 people with five loaves and two fish. Once again, before He gave the food to the crowd, He held up the bread to Heaven, broke it with grace—thanking God for the bread. Third time, He thanked God in advance for answering His prayers: “And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.’” (John 11: 41, NKJV). Right after His thanks to God, He raised Lazarus from the dead.
May I say that Jesus’ life and prayers were filled with thanksgiving to God? Why do I say so? Because Jesus was rooted in His relationship with God. He was a beloved Son of God. God loved Him dearly and was well pleased in Him (Mark 1:11). Jesus loved His Father back with the same love! He loved God so much that obeying God was never a duty but a delight. He pleased His Heavenly Father by doing what God commanded Him to do, and it brought Jesus joy. And, all the more did He all things that are pleasing to the Lord in Heaven. Of course, due to His reverent obedience to God, God answered His prayers. When Jesus received answers from God, He was more thankful to God. In turn, more thanks from Jesus make God more pleased with His Son that brought forth more answers to prayers. More thanks. And, so the cycle of gratitude continued.
Therefore, I can easily say that Jesus’ life overflowed with gratitude in every way. Naturally, it rubbed off on everyone around Him. So should it today on us Jesus’ followers.
That’s why I say that the attitude of gratitude is a sure sign of Christ’s followers. By knowing Jesus, and imitating Him in our words and actions, we can be grateful. And, by being grateful, we honor our Heavenly Father. Of course, by being ungrateful, we dishonor Him. With gratitude we move one step closer to God and with ungratefulness we move one step away from God.
I am sure all of us want to overflow with gratitude. However, we don’t become a thankful person overnight. Like anything else, we need practice. So, here’s my advice: say a prayer every morning that you want to do God’s will. More specifically, you want to be thankful for all things, both good and bad, because it is God’s will for you.
Here’s the action plan: start your day by counting 20 things you are both grateful and thankful for. Begin with small things and gradually increase to big things up to 20. I would call this practice D.O.T. 20 (Doing of Thankings for 20 things). E.g. Every morning I do this: I give thanks to God for life and health. I also thank God for His granting me faith in Jesus Christ. I thank Him for food, shelter, clothing, family, and my church. When everything good is counted, then I move onto not-so-good things (or you may call them bad things). Despite my feelings, I want to make sure that I stay thankful according to God’s command “be thankful in all circumstances. It is, of course, never easy to be thankful for bad things in life. But, by doing so every day, I learned to trust in God’s good will and the good God who makes all things both good and bad beautiful in due time. By being thankful for all things, I learned to glorify His name in my life. My prayer for all of you is this: may God make you overflow with thankfulness.