Almost every time I go to God in prayer, I start off like this: “Father, thank you for your kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.”
I never want to get to a place in my life where I forget how grateful I am for the work of Jesus Christ. It’s natural for us to remember all the reasons we are thankful: our families, our occupation, our home, our belongings, etc.
But did you know that everytime Paul writes an epistle, normally in the first few verses, he always expresses thanksgiving primarily for the gospel?
See the first 3-4 verses of the following books: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1-2 Thessalonians.
Paul has a formula he follows: he greets them, he gives thanks for them and the gospel, and then he begins his letter. I’ve been studying these “thanksgiving” passages and here’s a few things I’m thankful for as we reflect during this season.
1. The Gift of Grace
In the beautiful song, “Yet Not I, but through Christ in Me,” the first words say, “What gift of grace, is Jesus my redeemer.” The grace of God really is a beautiful gift.
Think simply on the fact that there was absolutely nothing in you, no righteous living, no good words, no pure thought, that brought on God’s redemption for us. It was purely a gift from Him.
John 1:16 says, “From Christ’s fullness we have all received grace upon grace.”
This means that the gift never stops giving. We not only received his grace on the cross, but in our everyday lives.
What is grace? Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Simply because God is good and He is love, he pours out his kindness to us. I’m thankful.
2. The Gift of Mercy
Secondly, I’m thankful to have been spared from God’s absence and anger. If I received the just penalty for my sin, I don’t know where I’d be today.
Instead, God chose to show us his great mercy by sending Jesus to receive the penalty for our sin: death. The wrath of God was poured out on the son, so that you and I could have our sins covered (Psalm 34).
Colossians 2:13-14 says that Jesus has taken our sins and nailed them to the cross, canceling the record of debt that stood against us. How could we ever repay such a merciful God? Nothing we can do will ever pay Him back, so we simply live in awe and worship of Him.
3. The Gift of Faith
Have you ever thought of faith as a gift? Ephesians 2:8 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift from God.”
Another scripture says, that our faith was granted to us by God (Phil 1:29). Scripture is full of verses that tell us about God’s
work in saving us through faith! (John 1:11-13, John 6:63-65, Acts 4:12, Romans 9:10, Eph. 2:1-3, Hebrews 11:6).
We would be unable to put our faith in Him if God did not first work in our hearts (Deut. 30:6). While this is difficult to fully understand, we must simply realize how good and gracious God is, and that He has saved us through and through.
We must, as God’s people, pause and reflect on the gospel of Jesus Christ during this season of Thanksgiving. Remember his gifts of grace, mercy, and faith. And may your gratitude be bottomless, fathomless, and immeasurable during this holiday season.
Caleb Duncan is the Director for the West Florida Baptist Association in Chipley and holds an M.A. in Ethics, Theology, and Culture from Southeastern Seminary. Email him at WfbaDom@outlook.com or follow his Twitter @calebtduncan.