Friday, November 27, 2009

Peace & Thankfulness

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace, and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)

Here peace and thankfulness are in close association. We are called to peace and also called to be thankful. How closely are peace and thankfulness linked?

War is in opposition to peace, and covetousness is in opposition to thankfulness. James 4:1 begins, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? You want something, but don’t get it.” (NIV) Here the Lord’s brother says that covetousness and greed cause conflict, even among believers. For instance, fighting over an inheritance has divided many families.

In his letter to Roman Christians, the Apostle Paul attributes the state of war between people and God to unthankfulness: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks . . .” (Rom. 1:21 NIV) He then outlines the progression of estrangement from God into total depravity and reprobation. It began with unthankfulness.

Thanklessness and covetousness are linked. One can lead to the other, then they progress together. Thanklessness may begin with thoughtlessness, forgetting the source of what we have. The Bible warns us many times not to forget God’s provision, lest we slip into idolatry. In the Ten Commandments, the first one is, “Don’t worship any other gods,” and the last is. “Do not covet.” (Ex. 20:3,17) These are linked, look alike like matched bookends. Paul says that covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5). When we covet something, we worship it beside God. Since God does not accept this, it comes between us and Him. So covetousness leads to conflict with God as well as with other people. But thankfulness leads to peace.

Being genuinely thankful to others and to God can be a guard against coveting. It keeps us mindful not only of where it all comes from, but of the proper place of things in our lives. It helps to focus on the giver rather than on the gift. Taking Job and David for our examples, we should love God for Himself, not just for what He gives us.

Here is something to ask ourselves:

Which do we value more, God’s presents or His presence?

© 2009, Wesley G. Vaughn