Thursday, November 23, 2017

Being Thankful for "These Things"

Economic disparity is a reality. But its impact is partially perception. I have never been in a position where I was surrounded by people of great wealth, and until last year I had not been surrounded by those with next to nothing. But last year on a visit to Kenya, I began to realize how much some people really have despite having so little.

In Matthew 6, Jesus talked of our focus needing to be on the Kingdom of God. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6.33). What are the the “these things” to which Jesus refers? The previous verses answer that question. Verse 25 says we should not be anxious about what we will eat or drink. Verse 28 says we need not worry about our clothing. And we can imply that shelter could be included because of a mention of barns (for storing food) in verse 26. All of “these” items are mentioned just after Jesus says we cannot serve both God and money (v. 24).

Of course some families are larger and need more food, more clothing, and a larger structure for shelter. But most people have a desire for better food, better clothing, and a better dwelling place whether or not better means bigger. But God does not promise us better – even if we seek it. What God promises us is Himself if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. If we seek God, He will add “these things” to us. If we seek “these things” we may get something, but we will miss God, and will miss out on what He may give us instead.

The previous two sentences are why I say that some of my friends in Kenya have far more than I have even though I may have more physical items in my silverware drawer than some of them have total possessions. As I currently teach on the doctrine of adoption in my current sermon series, I am trying to full embrace the idea of what it means to have God as my Father. Although I may refer to God as Father and believe in the theological truths of Him being Father, it does not mean that I have fully grasped what it means for God to be my father, not just the Father. Teaching on the story of the prodigal son this past week heightened my awareness that I often think, and live, as an orphan rather than as a child of God. (I do not mean to degrade orphans for they do not choose their status, I simply am referring to a mindset that develops over time – a mindset which may be understandable for a true orphan, but one that does not make sense for a child of God. Click here to review my sermon post for clarity.)

So, this week, I want to be more thankful for what I do have. I want to be more thankful for the “these things” while knowing that my Father may have much greater things for me. But whether or not He has them for me in this life, I want to seek Him more. I want to thank Him more earnestly for what I do have. It is not that I am not appreciate, but I want my “Thank you” to really be about my gratitude without any hint of “I wish I had a little more.” I am not perfect, and I want more, and will say that I “need” certain items which I may not truly need. But, if I am truly seeking first the Kingdom of God AND His righteousness, then I will learn to more content with what my Father has given me. As I become more content, I will be more grateful, and I will need fewer Thanksgiving holidays to remind me of how thankful I am for what I have been given.

That is truly the essence of what it means to have a happy Thanksgiving.