The Key to Thankfulness- Perspective

What is the key to thankfulness? I actually think there is a key — something that enables us to be thankful regardless of our circumstances. We often talk about being thankful and, especially this time of year, we often attempt to list things that we are thankful for. Certainly these are good practices, but perhaps we need to take a step back and truly understand a key contributing factor to our being truly thankful.

The Key to thankfulness_ Perspective

I have come to believe that thankfulness will never be a reality in our lives without one key thing – PERSPECTIVE. Why? Here are three reasons.

1- Perspective helps you take your eyes off yourself.

It is so easy to be so focused on our needs, our burdens, our pain, our difficulties, and our busyness that we neglect others. When this happens thankfulness begins to disappear. Perspective means keeping my eyes up. As Paul says in Philippians 2, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” This kind of perspective will increase your thankfulness.

2- Perspective helps you look beyond the immediate to the eternal.

I don’t know about you, but I often get bogged down in the here-and-now. It is natural to get consumed with the temporal and forget about the eternal. Keeping an eternal perspective means that we look at what is taking place today in light of eternity.

When you have an eternal perspective, how you view everything in life begins to change. Thankfulness increases because you are viewing everything in light of eternity.

3- Perspective helps you understand the role of pain and suffering in God’s eternal plan.

Far too often pain and suffering robs us of our joy and our thankfulness. As a Christian, we must understand that God has a plan for our pain and suffering. We must know that God can and will use our pain and suffering to further our growth as well as his kingdom. Without perspective we will fail to see this reality. It is only when we have a biblical perspective that we will be thankful in the midst of pain and suffering.

I encourage you to take a step back and gain some perspective this Thanksgiving. It is that perspective that will drive your thankfulness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

10 Quotes by John Calvin

The name John Calvin elicits a variety of responses from people. Some automatically think about his commitment to expositional preaching. Some think about the theological framework that is attributed to Calvin. Others think about his role in the reformation in Switzerland. Regardless of what comes to your mind when you hear the name ‘Calvin’, there is no debating the fact that Calvin was a man used greatly by God.

10 Quotes by John Calvin

John Calvin was a man of frail stature but of bold courage in the face of adversity. A great biography to read on Calvin’s life was written by Steven Lawson. You can learn more about it HERE. This post is not an evaluation of his theology, but simply a list of ten of his greatest quotes.

1- “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

2- “You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.”

3- “Every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols.”

4- “I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels.”

5- “The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both.”

6- “There is no knowing that does not begin with knowing God.”

7- “However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”

8- “In forming an estimate of sins, we are often imposed upon by imagining that the more hidden the less heinous they are.”

9- “All whom the Lord has chosen and received into the society of his saints ought to prepare themselves for a life that is hard, difficult, laborious and full of countless griefs.”

10- “The most accomplished in the Scripture are fools, unless they acknowledge that they have need of God for their schoolmaster all the days of their life.”

How Should Christians Respond to ISIS?

If you have watched the news at all over the past year then you are aware of the many ISIS-related events that have transpired. There have been numerous beheadings of Christians, ‘random’ acts of terror in a variety of places, and most recently, an organized terrorist attack by ISIS in France. As wrong as we all agree these actions are, many Christians are struggling with how to respond.

How Should Christians Respond to ISIS

On one hand we read in the Bible about God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. We read the command to pray for our enemies, the need to ‘turn the other cheek,’ and our responsibility to share the gospel with those who do not know Christ. On the other hand we also read about the justice of God toward evil-doers. We read about God’s hatred of sin and how we should desire and pursue justice. So as Russell Moore asked, “Should we pray for the defeat of ISIS, or their conversion?

The key to answering this question and the key to understanding what our personal response should be is found in distinguishing the differences between the God-given responsibility of government and the God-given responsibility of individuals.

Governmental Responsibilities

In Scripture, governments are called to protect their citizens, promote justice, and punish those who do evil (Romans 13). As Robert Jeffress points out in this video, governments are never called to forgive or to turn the other cheek. It is the government’s responsibility to seek out evil-doers and punish them for the protection of the others.

Individual Responsibilities

Individuals have a different responsibility. Individuals are called to love, forgive, pray for our enemies, share the gospel with others, and pray for the salvation of evil-doers. We must guard against attempting to personally live out and act on the responsibilities that God has given government. When we do, we fail to be obedient to our individual responsibilities.

A Christian Response to ISIS

As a Christian, I am called to love my enemies. I am commanded to pray for those who persecute me (and others). I am to desire the salvation of all who do not know Christ — even members of ISIS. I should want the gospel to advance to the enemy so that they can hear the good news of Christ. Members of ISIS are no less deserving of the gospel than am I. Therefore, I should pray for their salvation.

At the same time, it is not contradictory to be supportive of the government seeking to punish those who do evil in an attempt to protect its citizens and to promote justice.

So pray for God to open the eyes of the members of ISIS. Pray that they would see their need for Christ. Pray that the gospel would advance and the salvation that we so undeservedly received would rescue them as well. But also pray for our government to be firm and aggressive in opposing evil. Pray that the government would seek to protect us, its citizens. Pray for the evil of ISIS to be stopped. Pray for justice.

Closing Thought

Be both committed to loving your enemy with the love of Christ, and, at the same time, be supportive of the government aggressively opposing evil with whatever means are necessary. Understand the difference between individual and governmental responsibility, but pray for and be supportive of both.