In a fallen and broken world, we often fall victims to the sin of ingratitude. It's very easy to do. We are predisposed to live with ourselves as the center of the universe. But life lived in this way has dire consequences and it is the antithesis of the life God intended for us. Life is hard enough as it is and even harder alone. Since the beginning, God intended for us to be #together as people, to learn from each other, to bless and encourage each other, to challenge each other.
In my devotions this morning, I was reading through Colossians and took note of how Paul closed out his epistle in chapter 4 by enumerating so many people whom he held in high regard for their assistance and input in his life and ministry. As Paul progressed in his faith, he could see the end in sight and he turned more reflective of those to whom he owed proper honor for their place in his life and ministry; in fact, he ended most of his late-ministry letters in this way. Some of them he had instructions for, while others he simply shared his heartfelt gratitude for their lives as they intersected his. This he did, all while he was in prison! I wonder if we can be so Christlike in the midst of our trials to remember to be grateful for those around us. It is so easy to become consumed with our own life and agendas. You see, often we see our own peril and the deficiencies of those around us because we have allowed ourselves to absorb the piercing arrows of the enemy. The armor of God (Ephesians 6) was intended to protect us in those moments! Look around today and see how much the people around you have made your life better. Give thanks for them and even to them. Tell them how they encourage you and acknowledge that your situation would be so much more dire without them.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11 As I have considered this thought this morning I have equally been overcome with a sense of #gratitude for so many as well as a spirit of repentance for my oft ingratitude. I am asking God to keep me in a spirit of gratitude of those around me and how they make my life better. We need each other.
My dad shared an anecdote once that said if you ever see a turtle on top of a fence post you can be assured of one thing; he didn't get there on his own...he had some help! The same goes for us. We are in #community in this life. We can't escape it. Scripture encourages us to exhort one another, admonish each other and even provoke one another to love and good works! The good news is we are not alone. We obviously have Christ in us, but we also have each other, warts and all! The list for me is so unbelievable endless that it would embarrass me to try to list everyone who has helped me, talked me off the edge of the cliff and picked me up when I have fallen miserably. My wife and my parents have been paramount in my survival. I would be an utter disaster without their love, guidance and counsel. I can't tell you how many times I have been ready to do or say something incredibly stupid and one of them spoke wisdom and life into me and helped avoid disaster. I also have had many mentors and spiritual fathers who have made me a priority to share with me and help me along the way. I will be intentionally thanking them individually as I come full circle on this initiative. I have some close brothers with whom I have spiritually bled through some intense battles in my faith and certain critical periods of my life. We became a #confluence of strength in times of great difficulty.
I recall a young lady at a previous employer who seemed to daily begin her day working on little cards and notes. I didn't know what they were for the longest time. Later I found that she was a master of thank you notes, sympathy cards and such. If someone was sick- they got a card. If someone died- their loved ones got a card. I told her one day that she was the most thoughtful person I knew and I wanted to be like her. She inspired me.
At my current post, I have a new friend and colleague who goes out of his way to encourage and speak life into me DAILY. Again I am inspired by his #encouragement. He intentionally inserts himself into my life and if there is something troubling, he immediately grabs my hands and we pray together! That is what this is all about!
Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is]alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
But even with the best of intentions you and I will fail in this. This is why we need #grace; so we can earn to be gracious. So, to everyone who reads this, close friend or acquaintance, know this: I love you and value your input in my life and I thank you for it. I will endeavor to be more #grateful for you and to you. Whether you are a supporter of our ministry or a former schoolmate or long-time friend, I am #grateful for you. Paul said we are members one of another and Christ has commanded that we #love as he did. So no matter what your trials and troubles, don't believe the lie of the enemy that you are alone. You're not. We are #one. And #together, in Christ, we win!