Reed and Brighton Robertson - 10/29/16
“Grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”
Titus 2:12 NIV
In the summer of 2014, my family was able to visit many memorial sites in Washington, D. C. One site I especially wanted my children to visit was the tomb of the unknown soldier. I remember as a teenager watching the changing of the guard and thinking about who might be lying inside that grave and watching with intensity at the respect, somberness and seriousness surrounding this special small piece of real estate. When I was able to revisit it with Jase and the kids, it felt even more special, as I’ve grown in my appreciation for what this country means to me and the sacrifices these young men and women have made on my behalf. Every time I see a soldier or his/her family, I try my best to tell them that I appreciate their service. Those are the words I use, but how do I show them with my actions? I vote. I pay my taxes. I obey the laws of the land. These decisions aren’t always convenient for me as my schedule is busy, I don’t really agree with the ways my country uses the money that I’ve earned, and sometimes, (well since I’m being honest here) I don’t want to drive the speed limit when I’m in a rush! When these things are happening, I tend to forget that people have actually died to give me these privileges and rights. Do I remember that women in many countries aren’t allowed to drive? Not very often, I must say. So, it hurts my heart to see Americans burning our flag. Do they have that right? Thanks to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of US soldiers, yes. But it’s definitely not showing them gratitude or respect.
Yesterday our pastor, Dr. Trent Langhofer, spoke these words from one of his favorite authors Dallas Willard:
“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.”
Grace is wonderful, isn’t it? It’s a free gift that is offered to everyone who chooses to receive it. Reed and Brighton received many wedding gifts surrounding their big day. Even though neither of them paid any money for them whatsoever, someone did. Their gifts were free to them but weren’t totally and completely free in and of themselves. And over the past few weeks, Brighton has been writing Thank-You cards for each and every one of those gifts. Does she have to? Is she forced to do it? Absolutely not. But she and Reed appreciate the time, effort and money given by people who care about them and want to help them in starting their new life together. With them moving to Nashville, a close family member becoming ill, and with the holidays, she’s definitely had to discipline herself in order to write each and every one. But she’s getting it done. She’s showing gratitude and respect.
Just like the gifts and freedoms I’ve described above, grace isn’t exactly “free”. Someone had to pay for it. I’ve heard the acronym:
G – God’s
R – Riches
A – At
C – Christ’s
E – Expense
Just like our freedoms we enjoy as an American, sometimes we forget that someone paid a cost in order to give us that freedom. Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we did not have to. He not only suffered an unimaginable death, but he gave up his equality with God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-8 says, “…Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
So while we are free to enjoy the benefits of a wonderful gift that is handed to us on a silver platter that we will inherit for all of eternity, let’s not forget to say “thank you”. Let’s not forget to live “thank you”. A life of gratitude in response to a free forever?
Here’s something else Trent said yesterday, and I believe these were his own words:
“If you trust God enough to save you, then trust him enough to transform you.”
Those words spoke power to me. Grace should inspire me to live a life of gratitude, not just snatch it up, say “thanks” and forget about it 90 seconds later. The Pew Research Center shows the statistic for 2014 that 89% of Americans believe in God and that 63% of Americans believe in God with “absolute certainty”. Wow! Wouldn’t it be great if they did a study on how many of us actually lived out that belief? That’s harder to track, but looking at the eroding of our values as a nation, it’s hard to believe the numbers they do have. We may not can change our entire nation, but we can start with ourselves.
We want God to save us, but letting him transform us is hard. It takes discipline. It takes a conscious effort of living a life of gratitude. But we can do it—one Thank-You note at a time.
Have a transformed week!