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Gratitude. No, Thank You!

Stephen Phinney

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:6-7)


Warning. This article will not set well with those who feel sorry for themselves.

I woke up this morning to read a message from a friend, John Tesh. John is one of the most positive people I know. However, today our topic was regret. I then realized that some of the most positive people in the world have moments of regret.

Our focus on gathering stories of victory amid suffering & disbelief is flushing out testimonies from around the world. I am discovering that the individuals overflowing with gratitude are not only surviving horrid circumstances, but they are also rising above them and reaching out to others. I am beginning to see a pattern of deliverance.

The word gratitude is an interesting Greek wordeuchaistia. While the English hold to the definition of an act of worship, it has a much deeper meaning associated with it from Greek culture. The word originally communicated the attitude observed on Jesus’s face during the Last Supper, which is called Eucharist. If you were privileged to attend the Last Supper, you likely would use this Greek word to depict Jesus’s contentment and thanksgiving for being given the privilege of being crucified, not only by His enemies but those that claimed love and devotion to Him. In short, His contentment revealed a Holy thanksgiving for betrayal.

Let’s put things in perspective. While Jesus was hanging on the cross of betrayal, the Scriptures reveal only three people at His side – His mother, a converted whore, and Jesus’s beloved John. The same John entrusted with writing the book of Revelation. On a more disturbing note, everyone at the Last Supper outside of John - betrayed Him and hid like dogs when Jesus needed them the most.

Our reality is that Jesus’s mother represented His first Coming, Mary Magdaline represented who He came to deliver, and John was/is the ultimate representative of His Second Coming. Gospel complete. End of story.

The opposite of the Eucharist is regret!

Our passage reveals several significant doctrinal points.

First, overflowing gratitude is impossible without receiving Christ Jesus as the starting point. Indwelling Life is the foundation for gratitude and will not become transformational unless His indwelling Life is released through the one who received Him.

Two, gratitude demands the believer to walk in Him. The Greek word “walk” is pereepateh, which means to be preoccupied with. Here we discover the challenge & the leading blockage to gratitude. Most are not preoccupied with Jesus. Rather they are preoccupied with the “self-life.” Droves of “Christians” ask for prayers or deliberate their suffering as an excuse to elaborate self FOR pity and comfort. There is no redemption in shared sorrow. However, there is redemption in walking in and through the indwelling Life of Jesus. Our challenge is when we direct pitty-party believers to be grateful for sorrow & its circumstances, authentic ministers of the Gospel are disregarded as uncaring. In Christ’s reality, bearing one another’s burdens is a compassionate response to introducing the person of sorrow to the way of deliverance from that sorrow. Gratitude is the golden key to that deliverance.

Why does the average “Christian” work relentlessly to get others to “feel” sorry for them? The old adage carries some truth, “Misery loves company.” Sorrow causes loneliness, isolation, and darkness. Who wants to be in that place alone? Nobody. I cannot tell you how often I have worked to refocus believers regarding accepting their suffering and, in return, having the person rub my sufferings into the mix. This is Christianized revenge. They are covertly saying they are upset because I won’t join them IN their sufferings. The blunt Truth is that people overwhelmed by sorrow are not overwhelmed by gratitude. That is the real confession.

Three, gratitude cannot be experienced until the believer is firmly rooted in sound doctrines. Now we have our cultural temptation. Since shared sorrow has NO redemption, As the masses share their stories of sorrow, most get feedback of half-backed platitudes. You know the gig – tears, Christianized feel-good replies, and candy-coded lies that accomplish nothingness. When throwing a pitty-party, I want others to redirect me to sound doctrines – as in the requirements of experiencing overwhelming gratitude. Christianized platitudes are a confession that the person is lukewarm in understanding the difficult passages of Truth.

Here is the clincher, those who use Christianized platitudes are people pleasers. People pleasers want the same kind of shared sorrow in return. In real Truth, this is the morbid cycle that binds people to obsess over shared sorrow. Most people don’t share their sorrow to receive deliverance but do so to fill their dark place with guests. However, for those of us who want deliverance, unfortunately, we need to ask for sound Biblical doctrines that can refocus us to be re-rooted in Christ.

Four, gratitude cannot be released until we are built up in Him. In facing the facts, most of us share our sorrow to be built up as a person. It can be a sneaky way of gaining a compliment. This is not what I want to hear when I suffer from self-pity. Honestly, I need a spanking. I need faithful brothers and sisters who care enough about me that they will shake me loose from me. I admit the method this is done is important. Nonetheless, when others graciously shift my focus from my self-life to Christ-life, deliverance, and gratitude quickly follow. Honestly, everything allowed in my life should build me up in Him, not in me.

Five, gratitude is the manifestation of the established faith. In our culture today, faith is defined as anything or a person we invest our trust in. Our passage is NOT referring to such lukewarm descriptions. Faith in this passage is pistis, which means reliance upon Christ Jesus. Since faith is defined as that which we rely upon, this reality opens the door to the ultimate question as to why we recycle our sorrows repetitively. Authentic faith begs for an answer. However, the Truth being said, once our Lord gives us the answer, faith is required NOT to recycle the question. We are then required to accept the answer the first time and not tempt God by repeating Himself. So what is an obedient child of God to do when they wake up the following day to a pity party? Appropriate the answer you received from the Lord the first time you asked. If you’re like me, that usually involves God allowing me to suffocate in my self-pitty for an extended period. Once I am fed up with my “feelings” of wanting others to feel sorry for me, the answer He gave me the first time delivers me every time.

Six, gratitude cannot become the norm without instruction. Sad news. Today, statistics reveal that authoritative leaders cannot instruct, direct, or refocus most of humanity. This includes the lion’s share of the Body of Christ. People think they need to figure things out on their own for some stupid reason. Obedient leaders of Christ can deliver the profound answers to their sorrows, and then the next day, they return to their dark pity party like a dog to its vomit. An independent person begs for repetitive sorrows. I know this personally. On the other hand, a dependent person begs for guidance, adheres to it, and begins to take baby steps toward freedom.

One of the passages that have grounded me in faith is when Paul said, “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8) If you are not familiar with the context of Paul’s request, it is his appeal to the Lord that his “thorn in the flesh” would depart him. This thorn was identified as a messenger of Satan, a demon. If I were Paul, I would have appealed to the Lord 30 times a day until I got the answer. No, Paul was stretching the boundaries of God by asking three times. After the third time, in red letters, meaning Jesus spoke personally to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

Folks, if we believe we deserve more Grace than what Jesus gave Paul, we act like spoiled brats. Most of us slip into a dark place of despair over the slightest form of disappointment or lack of expressed love. I know my flesh does. However, when I think of Paul being harassed by a demon with shipwrecks, beatings, starvation, and other such trivia externals, and then dares to ask the Lord for deliverance three times while getting the answer he got, well, I believe there is an answer embedded here for all of us. Paul accepted Christ’s answer for his sorrows and came to this conclusion.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Christ, Himself has spoken these words to me. Jesus has reminded me that I need power if I want deliverance from self-wallowing suffering. Furthermore, I need to embrace/accept my weaknesses – my sufferings to receive this power. For me, the biggest challenge was bragging about my weaknesses, for this was the key that opened the door to the power of Christ to DWELL in me. I have found that by bragging about being weak, I am finding that I am well content with my weaknesses, which are insults from others, distress, persecution, and difficulties. Even though Paul ended this lesson with, for when I am weak, then I am strong, I often say to the Lord, “for when I am weak, I am filled with gratitude.”

Today, I view the Eucharist of the Last Supper differently than in the earlier years of my life. Can you imagine Jesus sharing at that table His prayer request for the sufferings He soon faced? Not me. What logic is in requesting something from another that they have NOT to give? Foolishness, I say. Jesus knew that He, His sufferings, and His sorrows could only be comforted by His Father alone. With that, if you want to make me cry, as I am now, bring up Jesus saying, My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? No greater sorrow tugs at my heart when I think of the sorrow Jesus experienced in being completely alone with His pain!

To experience overwhelming gratitude, all of us must embrace our darkest hour, cling to it, and wait for the resurrection Life to shoot out of us like a blinding light piercing any dark matter. Moments later, I believe we will find that the Grace of Jesus will be sufficient, cause us to be grateful, and then fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit that is perfected in our dark hours.

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