Peninsula Community Church
Grace, Gratitude, and Glory!
November 25, 2018
2 Corinthians 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
In Paul’s writings to the church at Corinth, we find this short verse and as I was contemplating what to share for this thanksgiving Sunday it was this verse that caught my attention. What I love about this verse is that it shows a direct correlation between grace, gratitude, and God’s glory. It is here that we find a couple of interesting things. First, we encounter the idea that as grace is extended and multiplied it leads to increased thanksgiving and gratitude. As grace is extended and gratefulness is realized God is glorified. So, in a nutshell, by receiving and extending grace to others and having a heart filled with gratitude, we proclaim God’s glory and we acknowledge that He is supreme in our life. Then finally all of this is for our sake.
Here is the deal. As more people come to know God’s grace and the power of thanksgiving, gratitude grows exponentially. When we truly understand the power of grace in our life we cannot help but respond with thanksgiving and gratitude. Think about it, the more I understand the awesomeness of the work of the cross in my life, the power of the resurrection, the magnificence of the ascension, and the steadfastness of Christ sitting at the right hand of God making intercession for me, I become more overwhelmed with gratefulness and thanksgiving.
Secondly, the more we look for grace in our life, the more we will find it. The more we walk in thanksgiving and gratefulness, the more we will see grace. And, the more we witness grace being revealed in our life the more we will see God’s glory being revealed which leads to being more grateful. Just this past weekend I witnessed the power of grace when I visited with my family in Alabama. I saw over and over again the great grace of God being revealed through healing and the power of restoration. Because of the grace of God who restored my relationship with my family, I was overwhelmed by that grace which led me to exuberant thanksgiving and praise.
As we look at this topic, we must come to one conclusion. It is hard to have a grateful heart and be selfish at the same time. It is hard to experience the grace of God and be ungrateful. It is hard to truly witness and see all that God has done and not break into exuberant thanksgiving and praise. With that said, I do not know about you but I have so much to be thankful for.
To the casual reader, you will not see it but in this passage there is a play on words that helps to deliver Paul’s point. Watch this. The word in the Greek for grace is the word for CHARIS. The word Paul uses for thanksgiving is the word EUCHARISTIAN. Notice something about this word. At the root of the word for thanksgiving is the word CHARIS which means grace. Perhaps, a better translation of the word would be gratitude. With that being the case, let me translate for you. At the center of thanksgiving there is grace and as we experience His grace we are filled with gratitude.
From this, we find there is a close relationship between grace and gratitude. Unless we see this relationship, we will not really know what gratitude truly is. The understanding of grace must be at the center of all we do and all that we achieve. When grace is active in us, we will have a grateful heart. Why? It is because we will begin to understand that we do not deserve what we receive, but we receive it because He is a worthy God who gives great and precious gifts to everyone. When our lives are lived by grace and all that grace has to offer us, we will be moved toward a lifestyle of gratitude. This leads to God’s glory being revealed in a greater way.
It is also noteworthy that the word EUCHARISTIAN is where we get our word eucharist or communion. It is at the table of the Lord that we experience the grace of God in some amazing ways. It is at the table of the Lord that we are reminded of what He has done for us, what He is doing in us now, and the promises that are ours in Him for the future. No matter what comes it is the grace of God that directs us and provides for us. That should fill us with gratitude so that we celebrate all that He has done is us and through us. Grace is not earned but it is a gift of God. Because we recognize the grace we have been given we will more likely give back to God a lifestyle of gratitude and thanksgiving. That brings me to a question. What would our lives and the world around us look like if we exhibited hearts filled with gratitude and thanksgiving?
To be a passionate follower of Christ we must be grateful people. Let me ask you? How is your attitude. Are you known more by being grateful or more as a complainer? If your attitude of gratitude could be literally measured, how much would your gratitude weigh, or is it masked by a complaining, ungrateful heart. Your answer to that question will make a difference in how you effect others and how you represent Christ. Here is a thought? Are you leading people to God’s grace or away from His grace? Are your actions leading others to rejoice and give thanksgiving? Are your actions leading people to give glory to God, or do your actions result in the opposite? An honest evaluation may be needed. You might need to ask someone close to you to help you answer either of those questions.
How are you representing the grace of God that you have received? What do people see in you? Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty person? Are you the Debbie downer that always seems to find the negative in every event, activity, or action that is taken? Perhaps the reason is that we have been closed off to the grace of God. Perhaps our eyes are blinded by the issues and cares of life, so that we miss the grace of God in our life.
There is a story told of two men who were in a hospital in the early 1900’s. Both men were very sick. One man who was near the window would spend his day describing and giving thanksgiving for what he saw outside. The other man who was bedridden and who could not see the window from his bed began to be jealous of this man as he shared what he saw. The man by the window would go into great detail about the trees, the wind blowing, the children playing, couples walking in the park next door, and father’s playing with their children. The man who heard all of this became increasingly agitated and ungrateful. One night the man by the window began to gasp for air and he could hear the man struggling to breath. Rather than call for help, he allowed the man to die. Once the man was removed from the room, the second man asked if he could be moved next to the window so that he could see the sights that had been described to him. The nursing staff although bewildered by the request agreed to move him there. The man however hung his head in shame as the window he longed to be near did not oversee a park at all but rather all he could see was a brick wall. The man and the nurses talked about what he heard the man describe. The nursing staff replied that it was impossible for him to see those things as the man was totally blind. Here is the moral of the story. The man near the window knew how to seek the best from life. He lived with a heart filled with gratefulness and joy. The new resident by the window died a few days later filled with regret and anxiety over his decision to allow the man to die.
As we close, we must consider that before we think our lives have to be perfect in order to receive His grace and live in gratitude, we are reminded that this passage is sandwiched between verses that remind us that we have this treasure in jars of clay. Life is going to throw us some curve balls and we will face all sorts of issues in our life. We are also encouraged to not lose heart because there is growth taking place within us. One part of that growth is the expansion of our understanding of grace and all that God has given us according to His good pleasure and will. The grace we receive orients us in such a way that we do not faint at the difficulties and problems we face on a daily basis. The grace which preserves us in trials and works life in us is being made greater because it is being multiplied. The result is that a greater number of recipients are sharing in His grace, which causes gratitude to abound to the glory of God.
Finally, in the end, all of this is for our sake and it is for God’s glory. It is for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. The prospect of standing before Christ surrounded by his spiritual children at Corinth so excited Paul that he says in verse 15, “It is all for your sake.” It was for the purpose of extending grace to more and more people so that it might increase in thanksgiving to the glory of God.
To God be the glory!
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom