The photo was taken at the Mariveles Bay when our boat ran aground.after gliding on the water for almost two hours. Instead of moving westward to Manila Bay, our boat was pushed eastward by strong huge waves.
The Thanksgiving tradition that has been handed down to us teaches us to be thankful for those things we have received. That is great. But the Bible redirects our focus of thanks not primarily on the gifts but on the Giver Himself. The first verse says it all clearly: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Instead of thanking God for what He does give, the Psalmist thanks God, first and foremost, for who He IS. Thanks is given to Him for He is good and that his faithful love is true and loyal forever (see also Psalms 100, 103, 104, 106)
One obvious advantage of thanking God based on his nature is that it nurtures and steadies our faith in Him even when we don’t see new, exciting and great gifts. We often associate gifts with something that give us pleasure. What if in God’s wisdom, He chooses to do with us what He did to toughen and refine Job? If we mistake blessings to be void of pain and loss, it might not be possible to say with Job“ I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it. Praise the name of the Lord (Job 1:21), Or, “should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10) It is this philosophy of thanksgiving that Job was able to ward off anything that attempts to destroy his faith on the loyalty of God.
Secondly, it will be easier to find things to praise God about when we are convinced that He is good and loving. That means that even HIs silence, or His seeming absence, or His painful disciplines, are for our own good. If we see Him this way, we can be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18)
Lastly, if we are focused on his character, our thanking Him for what he DOES is focused on his real and most important gift to us. The writer of Psalm 107 gives us a hint on the crowning gift God has given. Until we have received this gift, we can’t be truly thankful to Him. The most precious gift God has given is His work of redemption. This is the core of our speech when we thank Him. The Psalmist strongly encouraged his readers: “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies” (Psalm 107:2).
There are two sides to his redeeming work. One points to that which expresses his love that endures forever (v. 1). As his love is forever, his work of redemption is also eternal. He has taken us away from the bondage of our fiercest unconquerable foe: death. Only the Lord can conquer death. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus “broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality” (2 Tim. 1:10). Someday “he will wipe every tear from their eyes, there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Rev. 21:4). Someday we who sojourn on earth, will join the elders in His new kingdom in singing, “You were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation ( Revelation 5:9-10; Read Revelation 19:11-15; 21:1-8, 22:3-7, 12-14). This gift eternal (Romans 6:23). It takes a strong faith in God's character of faithfulness and trustworthiness to look forward for a gift that is beyond the grave.
The other side of this redeeming work is what He does recurrently on earth. The Bible gives four examples of the recurring saving acts of God on earth. One, the lost ones who wander and get hungry and thirsty find satisfaction in God (vv. 4-9). The word of God tells of the many instances when the Israelites found food and water in the wilderness. Two, some rebel against God and become chained, addicted or imprisoned in misery (vv. 10-16). God unchains them. Too, some become undisciplined in life and get critically ill. God heals them (vv. 17-21). Moreover, some
ambitiously “ply the trade routes of the world” but experience shipwreck. The Lord gets them safety. (vv. 23-32). All of them upon experiencing God's redeeming love are instructed to thank God (v. 8, 15, 21, 31).s
We have something to tell the our friends, family and neighbors. THANK GOD FORHE HAS BEEN GOOD TO US. HE HAS REDEEMED US FOREVER.
Among other descriptions, the Bible characterizes the love among church people as “not envious, or boastful, or arrogant” (1 Corinthians 13:4). At first glance, we may surmise that the three words are translators’ style of explaining the same word in the original language of the Bible. But they are individual renderings of three different words. Arrogance means swelled-headedness, boastful expresses self-importance, and envious implies being jealous of others’ advantages. We can lump their meanings together to show a gradation of negative quality. Envy makes one boasts about his importance. When self-importance is left unchecked, it gives way to arrogance, the blazing tip of pride. Looking at the harmfulness of the triumvirate, we now understand why the Bible describes love between Christ’s disciples as being void of them.
Jesus shows us love without arrogance
Our Lord Jesus does two things to make us able to love others. He shows us how. Then, he empowers us to do it. HIs command for us to love each other as he loves us is doable (1 John 4:21, John 13:34)
The Apostle John writes, “God showed us how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:9-10 NLT). Our Lord Jesus’ love is free of any stain of envy, self-importance and arrogance. He put us first over himself. Pastor Max Lucado beautifully penned it this way: “He swapped spotless castle for a grimy stable. He exchanged the worship of angels for the company of killers. He could hold the universe in his palm but gave it up to float in the womb of a maiden. . . He went from commanding angels to sleeping in the straw. From holding stars to clutching Mary’s finger. The palm that held the universe took the nail of a soldier. . .Content to be known as a carpenter. Happy to be mistaken for the gardener. He served his followers by washing their feet.” He loves us that he puts us above everything. We are of prime importance to Him.
The Bible encourages us to clothe ourselves with the same attitude that Christ showed. “Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality. Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8, GW). No doubt, the Apostle John had this in mind when he wrote, “And he (Jesus Christ) has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers” (1 John 4:19).
God has changed us so we can love without envy
By nature, we don’t have this ability to love. But He empowers us. He changed our nature. The Bible exclaims, But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, . . .He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:4-6, NLT). With this work, He has enabled us to love God and others (Romans 5:5).
This love that does not envy or boast or arrogate may be expressed in putting others before one’s self (Phil. 2:3). It also expresses itself by not having an exaggerated self-importance (Romans 12:3). And, it can be shown in applauding the success of others (Romans 12:10, 15).
If everybody in our church or our homes loves others this way, we will continue to be a loving community where unbelievers and wayward brethren will experience Christ’s love for them. And, we will be a victorious and happy church.
“When we are kind to others, we look for ways to be kind, and when others are kind to us, we are motivated to pass that kindness on” (Gary Chapman, Love as a Way of Life). Yes, indeed, we pay kindness forward.
Kindness is good for the body and soul
In the same book, Pastor Chapman, enumerates a few benefits of being kind to the body and soul. We can make mention of two. One, “acts of kindness release the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins.” There is called a “helper’s high” that can even minimize the effects of disease, physical disorder, and reverse the feelings of depression. Two, “acting kindly toward other people increases one’s self-worth, optimism, and overall satisfaction in life.” So, while we pay it forward, it pays to be kind for our well-being.
Kindness glues people together
In addition to the personal benefits, one unmistakable observation points to why the Word of God is replete with the encouragement to the community of believers to be kind one to another (e.g. Ephesians 4:32). Of course, we cannot be kind one to another without the power behind it, which is love (1 Cor. 13:4). Kindness grows out of love and it can be the most potent expression of that love. God loves us and expresses that in compassion, mercy, sympathy, and help—all are words for kindness. Acts of kindness creates a sense of unity in a group. Foundations and non-profit organizations ordinarily outgrowth of the generous acts of individuals. The Sparrow Clubs USA for instance started when Michael Leeland could not afford $200,000 for a bone marrow transplant, and somebody provided the seed money. An unknown self-defacing picked-on kid in the same High School Michael attended gave twelve $5-dollar bills, his entire bank account. Daemon’s effort inspired his school, and countless other schools and individuals to give $227,000. The club was born and has helped four hundred seriously ill or disabled children. All because of one act of kindness.
One other social impact of kindness is that it perpetuates the life a society or community in general. Unkindness creates conflicts and fosters division. That is why leaders of nations bank on acts of kindness as a matter of survival of the community.
Kindness expresses our love towards each other
Kindness as an expression of an authentic love (agape) makes the church a community. By that we mean that through it there will be true caring. If we express love through benevolent acts among each other, the church becomes a loving and caring group of people. It also perpetuates the continuance of churches. Its uniting effect is essential to our survival and growth as a church. But it must start with each of us. We said at the beginning, that when we have the attitude of kindness, we look for means to express it. And when others receive it from us, they are motivated to pass it around. It changes one’s attitude that is essential to the growth of a group.
If being kind makes us all more motivated to work together as a unit for God, how then can we express it among us? Jesus gives a lot of examples. He provides help to the helpless. He feeds the hungry. He heals the diseased and ill. He treated everybody with worth. He gave his life on our behalf.
I think I agree with principle of kindness in this statement: “Kindness says “Good Morning” and then serves coffee.” Just practice being the church that Jesus loves and shows kindness with.