Gratitude: The Essence of Ethic for Grace

holy-bibleFor Lord’s Day September 22, 2013

Dear Saints,

I had Ligonier Ministries’ RefNet online radio playing on my computer while working this week, and Dr. R.C. Sproul said something in a message that I thought was very much worth our meditation. He said,

“The essence of the Christian ethic is gratitude.”

This statement was in his message in the Gospel of John entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship”.  Certainly, when we are unwilling to die to ourselves and follow His commands for living our lives (which He says is a basic requirement of being worthy to be called one of His disciples in Mathew 10:38 and Luke 14:26-27), we show we are not thankful enough to Him for dying for us on the cross so that we could have eternal life. We show we are not thankful for His sacrifice (and that of His other disciples on our behalf) by not crucifying ingratitude in our hearts.  Such ingratitude manifests itself in some terrible lifestyles of which the Apostle Paul says those whose lives can be described by them will not inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:5).

This consideration of gratitude as a chief moral and witness of the Christian life reminds me of something Dr. George Scipione, director of the RPTS Biblical Counseling Institute (who founded IBCD and directed it for years in San Diego) once pointed out.  He showed that those who in discontent covet what others have and resent them for what they have are simply ungrateful for what they themselves have in and from Christ (See Psalm 103:1-2ff).  He referenced Ephesians 5:3-4, and showed that the giving of thanks is the remedy against all kinds of sins (and thus being ungrateful is the cause, or at least a major catalyst, of such sins):

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

How can we give thanks to Jesus for His grace and grow within it?  How about we consider this message I read in a newsletter from Herrick Christian School (EPC Australia) that Elder Renner just forwarded to me? It reads like this:

What if We Began to Treat Our Bibles the Way We Treat Our Cell Phones?
What if we …

… carried it with us everywhere?
… turned back to get it if we forgot it?
… checked it for messages throughout the day?
… used it in case of an emergency?
… spent an hour or more using it each day?

Considering Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), and that the Word is about Him and He loves to do it and proclaim it to us (Psalm 40:6-9 with Hebrews 10:5-10; Psalm 22:22, 25 with Hebrews 2:12), could there be a more grateful way of responding to Him than reading, praying, and singing His Word back to Him in private and together? And living His Word? May we be grateful for His Word and show our gratitude with our constant conversation with Him through it, so that we may better know these words in our own life experience and as a witness through our ethical living that we are indeed Christians:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant