“12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Discontent is never easy to bear: it turns things that once were joyful to us into things of contempt in our minds.
So what was it that caused Paul to be filled with this overwhelming contentedness?
Therefore, since we receive a Kingdom, which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Paul was fully aware of the salvation that he had received: indeed, one could spend many, many months teaching on the depth of our salvation and what it means without even scratching the full measure of these hidden mysteries in Christ.
The gratitude that Paul received as a result of his faith in what Christ had done, and who Christ is, was the power that overcame every circumstance he faced and caused him to view even the worst suffering as unworthy to be compared with the glory that was to come in Christ!
Gratitude: the quality of being thankful (New Oxford American Dictionary).
This readiness to show appreciation and return kindness is a quality that you find in those who have had a realization of the great value or worth of some act of kindness or good fortune that has been given to them.
In a Christian, it is derived entirely from the revelation of Christ- knowing the indescribable depths of His mercy and kindness and the glory that we know will be revealed to us at His return!
A BROTHER OF GRATITUDE
A Christian believer once recounted how he had been converted while he was working as a prison guard in a persecuted country: he told how a prisoner endured the terrible and wretched conditions he was in while continuing, day in and day out, to sing praises to God. The guard was overcome by this gratitude and knew that this joy was an undeniable evidence of the work of Christ.
What was the source of this gratitude?
Was it not the same source that we see in Paul:
“The crowd rose up together against them (Paul and Silas), and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into the prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, ad the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so tat the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” and he called for lights and rushed in and trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them to, he said, “sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the Word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.”
These two stories are tremendous accounts of faith.
Gratitude is not the goal, nor is it the source: gratitude is the result of the faith they had according to the work of Christ being done in them. Our thanksgiving is a result of Christ and it is the will of God (1st Thessalonians 5:18).
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
Is there any greater way by which the children of God can glorify His name in the face of a wicked world than to declare His praises under the oppression of injustice and trial?
What’s more is that this is not a practice that only veteran Christians can do; Paul was not a 30-year veteran Christian in the story above (certainly less than 10 years).
This is a sacrifice of praise we can all make! And it is a sacrifice of praise that comes from God! How blessed are we that the Lord has provided our sacrifice for us!
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, therefore, to God.”
Both pride and ingratitude deny what the Lord has done for us and cause us to exalt ourselves over the Lord.
Pride is that thing which causes us to take offense when wronged; ingratitude is that feeling you get when you believe that you deserve better than what you’ve received. And this feeling usually arises when we have forgotten what has already been given to us in Christ and begin to elevate the importance of perishing things in this world that we do not have!
In a very rare exception, I’ve decided to link to a video because it demonstrates in a very clear, funny, and clean way how easily ingratitude festers in us: Monty Python- Four Yorkshiremen
“21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
If we are living in pride and ingratitude, we have not tasted or known the glory of God and our hearts are both foolish and dark.
There is no way to overcome this except through Christ- for He is the summation and the completion of all things for the glory of God’s name.
If you see the signs of ingratitude in your life, seek and ask for the revelation of Christ, by which you will be both renewed and overwhelmed with joy and gratitude!
Set your mind on the things above: things which are good and pure, holy and righteous, noble and pleasing in the sight of God.
TAKE IT FURTHER
▪ Romans 3:28 and 5:1
▪ John 17:19
▪ Romans 15:16
▪ 1 Corinthians 1:2
▪ Hebrews 9:14
▪ 1 Peter 1:2
▪ Galatians 3:20-27
▪ Colossians 3:16
▪ Luke 18:9-14
▪ James 4:10
▪ 1 Thess. 5:18