I took a break from the series I was writing about gratitude as we prepared our kids for the start of a new school year (Thank you, Lord.), and got settled back into some kids’ and ministry schedules. Yay, for routines. Here I am being grateful in the midst of a blog series about gratitude. Must be a God thing. So here goes, the third of four installments about gratitude, this one about how hope, character and gratitude are connected.
As I have reflected on gratitude, the Holy Spirit has been teaching me, and showing me how many attitudes and character qualities intertwine with one another. More even than character, hope and gratitude that I set out to touch on in this blog.
Hope results from character. When God has developed that character and hope in me, I am truly thankful in blessings my human nature would have me – and maybe you- see as minor. That thankfulness, lest I forget, is connected to faith God has built in me, giving me the courage to be generous to others as I live out my belief that my Maker will take care of me and mine.
Whew! I’m feeling like I’m in a spiritual geometry class trying to prove that when God works gratitude in my heart, he’s already done several other works in me, and the gratitude can then grow and result in other blessings in my life and relationships. All in seven steps.
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. – Romans 5, NIV, biblegateway.com
Boy, does God ever say what he means better than I say what I mean. Of course, the topics of character and hope are in this passage, but gratitude isn’t specifically mentioned. Still, it speaks of rejoicing, and peace – aren’t those signs of a grateful heart?
I love this next verse, too.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7 NIV
And see here how faith and thankfulness are connected. I think character is implied where it says “rooted and built up in him.”
So, you’re thinking, ‘Helene, this isn’t spiritual rocket science.'
Nope, you’re right, it’s not.
So then why is it so hard some days to live this? Because, of course, life as a follower of Jesus Christ means more than memorizing Bible verses and checking out the root word meanings in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or Japanese. Ha. Ha. Had to throw that one in.
Head knowledge about a spiritual topic is much different than practicing it every day when I might be tired, or I might want something different than God does.
Lord, I pray you continually pour out grace and the power of the Holy Spirit on my life, so that I do live a life of character, hope and gratitude.
I can’t prove all these qualities are connected with one convenient Bible verse. I won’t prove it in seven orderly steps. God doesn’t need me to line it all up in a neat geometry proof.
character, hope, gratitude, generosity
peace, joy, love
No scripture connect the dots. No neat mathematical formula. But I see the truth of how He orchestrates these qualities and fruits to work together.
I’m blessed every single day by the reality of how God intertwines what matters most.
Above photo of overflowing Saylorville Lake, central Iowa June 30, 2010 Photo by Helene Bergren
©Helene Bergren. All Rights Reserved.