Published by Jason Taylor on Sun, 10 Mar 2019 17:59

Grace not Gifts

I don’t know about you but my life experience to date has taught me that life is a mixture of good times, average times and bad times. In his letter to the church at Thessalonica, St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Giving thanks in all circumstances and rejoicing always is pretty easy when life is good, it’s more difficult when things are just OK although I can sometimes manage that too but when things are going horribly I find it almost impossible. How am I supposed to rejoice when someone dear to me has died or when someone that really matters to me is having a tough time? Am I supposed to thank God for sickness and injury? And what about the mirriad disappointments life throws at us? Surely I am not supposed to be grateful for those as well?

Paul was just an ordinary bloke who had an extraordinary encounter with Jesus. He had more than his fair share of trouble and difficulty and yet he writes that it is God’s will for us that we should rejoice in all circumstances. Surely Paul wasn’t rejoicing when he was shipwrecked or imprisoned for following Christ? Well, apparently he was able to rejoice even in the most adverse circumstances and he seems to think that we should as well.

Recently I was reading a book and i read something that made me stop in my tracks. The author was encouraging his readers to rejoice not in gifts but in grace. What he means by this is that gifts are tangible, impermanent things we encounter along the way; we often take gifts for granted and are miserable when they are absent. Examples of gifts could include freedom of speech, democracy, good health, family and friends, a good job, money, our homes and the fact that we generally have enough to eat and drink.

All of the things I have listed, and other things like them, are gifts from God to us. Most of us have enjoyed these gifts in varying degrees from birth. When we have plenty of them we are happy and thankful to God and when we have less than we think we ought to, we pray earnestly to Him to help us out.

For Christians the real gift is the grace of God through salvation. We are assured that our names are written in God’s book of life and that we will one day see Him face to face. Whatever our circumstances this is something that can never be taken away from us and it should be more than sufficient cause to rejoice and praise God. Locating our happiness in gifts, as we so often do, is folly because happiness comes and goes but the grace of God is constant and unwavering. When we learn this truth we may find that we can in fact rejoice in all circumstances.

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