Last Saturday, we talked about practicing the attitude of Gratitude, and one of the tips we can apply is to keep a gratitude list (see previous post). This time, let us look back and find out what motivates us to give thanks, or the reason for living our lives full of gratefulness to our Lord. Again, this is not new to us I’m sure. You most probably know this, primarily because you have gone through it all. It’s just that, maybe to some, it hasn’t been presented with this easy outline: 3G (Guilt, Grace, Gratitude).
I first heard this concept in one of the session of Doctrines of Grace in our church. Then eventually, as our pastor embeds this outline once in a while in his sermons, and now in our sessions of Heidelberg Catechism, my understanding of it has grown deeper. I come to appreciate it more and more as I see how it has always helped me get on track whenever I’m prone to walk astray.
The idea is pretty simple, but the message is quite heavy. The first ‘G’ talks about our guilt when we were not yet in Jesus Christ. We were guilty of our sins. We were doomed. We had no hope.
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. ~ Isaiah 64:6
Because of our guilt, we couldn’t connect with God. Our relationship with Him was broken and could not be reconciled. BUT, the Lord did not let it stay that way. This will now lead us to the second ‘G’. Because of His so much love for us (John 3:16), He granted us His grace….and mercy. Have you ever thought of how they differ from each other? When we speak of ‘grace’, it means some thing or some favor is given to you even though you do not deserve it. And when we talk about ‘mercy’, it means that some sort of punishment is withheld from you even though you deserve it. Let us see how that relates to what God has done. Where’s grace there? It is when He sent His own Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sins (in our stead). We don’t deserve that favor, and yet, He chose to do it because of His love. Where’s mercy there? God withheld pouring out His wrath to mankind, instead, He chose to pour it all out to His Son. He withheld from us the punishment that is due us. I suggest you find time meditating on Ephesians 1-2. In those chapters, Paul gave a very comprehensive explanation and illustration of how great the grace of our Lord is: how He transformed us into good-for-nothing people to His people; how He called us from darkness into light; how He led us from a life full of misery to a life full of hope.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10
That last verse (v10) relates to the third ‘G’. Now, this is a just a matter of common sense and manners. I mentioned in my previous post the concept of “utang na loob” of Filipinos, or the way of giving back/reciprocating something that was done in your favor. In our case, is it not just appropriate to give back all the glory and thanksgiving to God for what He has done? Gratitude. Because of His grace that saved us from our doomed fate, because of his immeasurable love for us, we ought to live our lives full of gratitude for Him. Though, of course, we couldn’t, in any way, match what He has done…but the Bible suggests that the best way is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him, living a life in total obedience and trust, and love for God and for others. Here are some verses we can ponder on in giving thanks to God through our lives:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodiesas a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12:1-2
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. ~ 1 John 3:16
15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. ~Hebrews 13:15-16
12 Sin must no longer rule in your mortal bodies, so that you obey the desires of your natural self. 13 Nor must you surrender any part of yourselves to sin to be used for wicked purposes. Instead, give yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes. ~ Romans 6:12-13
3G – Guilt, Grace, Gratitude. It’s easy to remember. I hope we’d always reflect on this. Like I said earlier, it helps me to get back on track. Looking back at what God has done for our salvation, the most sensible thing to do is to thank Him.
- (a) Guilt, Grace, Gratitude (b) Guilt, Grace, Gratitude
- Guilt, Grace, Gratitude (HC 2-5) – Peter J. Wallace
Feel free to share your thoughts below. Hope to see you again next week. Let’s have a blog series about LOVE. You may also suggest topics through the comments thread (please do!)
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