Imagine the following scenario: You have spent the last year, spending rather extravagantly. Without thought or concern for how you will pay for it, you have gone out and bought whatever you wanted. Shoes, clothes, boats, cars, your dream home, caviar, champagne etc. You have had a LOT of fun, right? Living life as if you were free to do whatever you want without consequence. Eventually, the bills come due however, and you don’t have enough money to pay them.
Every month, the bills arrive, and every month you throw them in a pile on the table, and walk away, now feeling guilty and broke. The following month, more envelopes arrive, now with late fees attached. The month after that, the envelopes all have “PAST DUE” stamped in red on the front. You are overwhelmed. Every time the phone rings or there is a knock on the door, you hide. You’re hiding in shame, fearful of the consequences of your out-of-control spending. The burden of it all is leaving you anxious, stressed and overwhelmed. Your entire family is feeling the impact and even your work is suffering. You have no idea where to turn or how to get yourself out of this situation.
Then one day, a man, a total stranger to you perhaps, shows up on your doorstep and says “I know you don’t know me, but I know you and I can see how deeply troubled you are. I love you, and I love you so much that I want to pay off your debt. Tell me how much you owe, and I’ll write a check.”, adding, “In fact, I love you so much, and I know you’re not going to make a few more mistakes along the way, so here is a blank check too. This should cover all of your future debts as well.”
What would you do? Would you close the door on his face? Would you accept his offer but feel to embarrassed to say thank you? Or maybe you’d decide to just walk by his house once a week, poke your head in and say “thank you”, forgetting about him until the same time next week?
Maybe, you would you fall on your knees in thanksgiving? Perhaps you’d be humbled by his incredible gesture of love?
Now, let’s say that this man wasn’t just some crazy rich guy who walks door to door giving away money. Let’s say that he hand picked YOU, and that he loved you so much that he was willing to sacrifice the life of his own child in order to pay off your debt. Now what would you do? Would you wake up every single morning of your life and ask, “how can I show my gratitude today?”. Would you spend each day, living for Him, in an effort to repay Him for what he’s given you.? Would you be able to let go of the guilt caused by the debt you created in order to live in a way that would please the One who sacrificed so much for your happiness? Would you keep accumulating debt, or would you strive not to, as a show of thanks?
Our Heavenly Father loved us all so much that he made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave up the life of His Son, so that we could live guilt free and debt free. What kind of gratitude do you believe He’s earned for that? Are you showing Him enough? Are you living your life in a way that expresses that gratitude? What would be an adequate repayment plan for that kind of sacrifice?
Is gratitude enough? I pray every single day. Sometimes several times a day. I suspect most people pray a little like I do, starting off by expressing gratitude and giving thanks. “Thank you, Heavenly Father for this day”, so on and so forth. But if we are just repeating what we’ve heard others say our whole lives, or what we think God wants to hear, than why bother?
Gratitude is a step in the right direction, and offering our thanks to The Creator is wonderful. But remember what He sacrificed for us, consider His incredible grace, think about how deep His love for us, unworthy beings that we all are, truly goes. Mediate on that for a while, then think about how you’d like to demonstrate your gratitude. Demonstrating is different than verbalizing. It requires an action.
Now make a list of all of all the ways you can demonstrate your love and gratitude to our Father. Here, let me get you started.
- Sacrifice by writing a check to your church instead of buying those new shoes.
- Sacrifice by giving up a day of your life for fasting and mindful prayer. Hunger in comparison to hanging on a cross? C’mon now.
- Be humble.
- Be kind to other people, even when they annoy you.
- Share the gospel with others. Share your testimony. Display Christianity even in front of those that you believe “don’t get it”. Stop worrying about what other people think. The Lord’s feelings matter – the person in the cubical next to you? Nope.
- Tell the truth.
- Repent. I know, this one is a challenge for all of us. But listen, He already knows what you have done. He just wants you to share it with Him. Tell Him your story. It’s okay to pray and cry at the same time. He’ll see the sincerity, He’ll feel your sorrow and then He will lift that burden you’ve been packing around. Trust me, repentance works, and it feels so good.
- Study your scripture.
- Attend regular church services and sing with gusto!
- Allowing God to use your life to do His work is the ultimate show of gratitude. You’re life has been blessed so that you can do for others. Those blessings are yours, but they don’t belong to you. Practice giving them away.