Ephesians 5:1-2, 8-9, 15-21
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
And just like that, we blink and find ourselves at Thanksgiving! No doubt many pastors have featured thankfulness and gratitude for a myriad of series this month, social media has been packed with ’30 Days of Thankfulness’ commentary, and most will gather together this week for a day of family feasting, football frenzy, and then possibly mania holiday shopping. Thanksgiving. Yes, it is a nationally recognized holiday, but it’s so much more than that.
Chresten and I speak often of how difficult it is to raise grateful children in today’s society. Our children have never known true need, all glory to God, and truthfully, neither have either of us. God has been so faithful and we have been blessed beyond measure. We haven’t known the truly devastating times of days gone by. When settlers made their way and forged to form a nation on America’s soil, they knew true need. They gathered that first Thanksgiving with a full understanding of just how far they had journeyed and dreamed big dreams of what they hoped to accomplish with God’s help.
For the believer, however, authentic thanksgiving for all that God has done, what He continues to do, and what He has promised He will do is a deliberate act of the will and a choice of lifestyle. When the apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Ephesus he began with reminding them, “We are blessed because God the Father chose us to be His!” He wrote in chapter two, verse 10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God created us, chose us, and then prepared good works for us to accomplish for His Cause.
This letter to the Ephesians is so packed with “shoutin’ ground”, I would encourage you to dig a little deeper this week! Chapter 5 Paul issues what I believe to be the ultimate definition of gratitude for the believer on the Lord Jesus Christ. How can the follower of Christ maintain a constant attitude of gratitude?
- Imitate God (vs 1). Put on Christ. Basic principles of godliness are simply to study Christ’s lifestyle, attitude, and mission and then embrace and embody those elements in our own lives.
- Walk in love (vs 2). We are never more like God than when we are walking in love. Some days this flows naturally out of the abundance of love in our own lives. Other times we must deliberately put on love and exercise it by faith.
- Walk as children of light, putting away dark things (vs 8-10). If our daily activities involve the same measure of darkness and worldliness as those we know who do not claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, then we are walking in ingratitude, expecting God to be pleased that we just woke up and lived! Living casually in our walk with God is diluting the awesomeness of His great gift to us through His Son’s sacrifice and the grace He extended to us, and does so daily. Find out what is acceptable to the Lord! And then you will walk in Light.
- Redeem the time (vs 15-16). We must live purposefully. The days are truly evil and His return is imminent. Now is most certainly not the time to become lazy, frivolous, and carefree in our approach to fulfilling the good works He set us up to accomplish. Determine like never before to find the purpose He has for your life and fulfill it. Temporal things will fade all too quickly but eternal things are of the highest value. Don’t trade what is best for only what is good.
- Love one another and become a part of the Cause of Christ with the Church of Christ (vs 17-21)! Now is no time to become a maverick of your own spiritual quest, independent of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Nothing pleases the Father more than seeing His children getting along and serving one another. When this is accomplished, true unity is created and the world can be won in exponential fashion.
“18…be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,…” Spirit-filled, praise-filled, thankful people exemplify gratitude unto God by they way they live. May this ever be the anthem of our lives.
Filled with immeasurable praise,