Getting Ready for Thanksgiving through Philippians

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving through Philippians   Every year Americans gather together for Thanksgiving to fill themselves with good food, gravy, and gratitude (on a side but serious note: don’t eat romaine lettuce this Thanksgiving, they have found e.coli in it). But how can we as Christians gather with a joy that is deeper than just a holiday. How do we have lasting, unshakable joy and gratitude?  Philippians 2:14 says to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” because it will make us shine “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” We are not called to conform to his world’s pattern of grumbling, complaining, whining, and self-pity. Christians shine like lights in a dark world when they are filled with gratitude and love. Gratitude is an act of faith. But how can we be filled with gratitude when our hearts feel like grumbling?  In Philippians 1:15-18, we see an example of this faith-filled gratitude. While Paul was in prison, several fellow believers began preaching the Gospel of Christ to afflict Paul during his imprisonment. How could preaching the Gospel afflict Paul? And what does Paul’s imprisonment have to do with it? It’s because these fellow believers began preaching and teaching the Gospel in a way that discredits Paul because he was in prison. They probably were saying things like, “Oh, Paul wasn’t that great of a man of God! If he was, why is he in prison?! If only Paul was more sensible, then maybe he wouldn’t be in prison! Church, you guys should follow my leading instead.” Thus, Paul says that these fellow believers “preach Christ from envy and rivalry” (1:15) to “afflict me in my imprisonment” (1:17).  How angry would you be if someone discredited your faith while you suffered for Christ? How bitter and cold would your heart become? This is enough to crush any believer’s heart! I would probably sink into a pit of grumbling, hate, and self-pity! However, Paul’s response is not bitterness or grumbling, but gratitude and rejoicing. How?  “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (1:18). Even as his name is slandered, his ministry is discredited, and his leadership is questioned, Paul rejoices. Because Paul only cares about the Gospel’s advancement, not his own agenda. Compared to Christ, everything else in life is rubbish (3:8). Paul does not view circumstances as good or bad, he views them as opportunities to honor Christ. His whole life is only about advancing the Gospel, not personal greatness. For him, to live is Christ, and even death is gain (1:21).  If we truly want a gratitude that lasts beyond a holiday season, grows throughout the course of our lives, and can even endure imprisonment and betrayal, our hearts need to be focused on advancing the Gospel and honoring Christ. As long as we are seeking our own interests and advantages, we will continue to be just like the world. Only when we begin to care about the Gospel’s advancement and Christ’s glory will we start growing an unshakable heart of Gospel gratitude. And Thanksgiving will no longer be a day, but a state of life.  I love you all. I pray for you all every day. I am thankful for you all. Let’s prepare for a life of Thanksgiving together. :)

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving through Philippians

Every year Americans gather together for Thanksgiving to fill themselves with good food, gravy, and gratitude (on a side but serious note: don’t eat romaine lettuce this Thanksgiving, they have found e.coli in it). But how can we as Christians gather with a joy that is deeper than just a holiday. How do we have lasting, unshakable joy and gratitude?

Philippians 2:14 says to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” because it will make us shine “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” We are not called to conform to his world’s pattern of grumbling, complaining, whining, and self-pity. Christians shine like lights in a dark world when they are filled with gratitude and love. Gratitude is an act of faith. But how can we be filled with gratitude when our hearts feel like grumbling?

In Philippians 1:15-18, we see an example of this faith-filled gratitude. While Paul was in prison, several fellow believers began preaching the Gospel of Christ to afflict Paul during his imprisonment. How could preaching the Gospel afflict Paul? And what does Paul’s imprisonment have to do with it? It’s because these fellow believers began preaching and teaching the Gospel in a way that discredits Paul because he was in prison. They probably were saying things like, “Oh, Paul wasn’t that great of a man of God! If he was, why is he in prison?! If only Paul was more sensible, then maybe he wouldn’t be in prison! Church, you guys should follow my leading instead.” Thus, Paul says that these fellow believers “preach Christ from envy and rivalry” (1:15) to “afflict me in my imprisonment” (1:17).

How angry would you be if someone discredited your faith while you suffered for Christ? How bitter and cold would your heart become? This is enough to crush any believer’s heart! I would probably sink into a pit of grumbling, hate, and self-pity! However, Paul’s response is not bitterness or grumbling, but gratitude and rejoicing. How?

“Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (1:18). Even as his name is slandered, his ministry is discredited, and his leadership is questioned, Paul rejoices. Because Paul only cares about the Gospel’s advancement, not his own agenda. Compared to Christ, everything else in life is rubbish (3:8). Paul does not view circumstances as good or bad, he views them as opportunities to honor Christ. His whole life is only about advancing the Gospel, not personal greatness. For him, to live is Christ, and even death is gain (1:21).

If we truly want a gratitude that lasts beyond a holiday season, grows throughout the course of our lives, and can even endure imprisonment and betrayal, our hearts need to be focused on advancing the Gospel and honoring Christ. As long as we are seeking our own interests and advantages, we will continue to be just like the world. Only when we begin to care about the Gospel’s advancement and Christ’s glory will we start growing an unshakable heart of Gospel gratitude. And Thanksgiving will no longer be a day, but a state of life.

I love you all. I pray for you all every day. I am thankful for you all. Let’s prepare for a life of Thanksgiving together. :)

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