Have you noticed that we are often quick to criticize and slow to appreciate? Show a white page with a small black dot in the middle to a group of people. Ask them what they see. I bet you most, if not all, will say, “A black dot!” I guess, it’s a normal answer since the black dot is what stands out on a white background. Yet, this helps us illustrate how we tend to be about others and all we are given. We see the half-empty glass, instead of a half-full glass!
Take the church’s Divine Service. We have all the blessings of the Gospel and the sacraments given to us right here in our midst at Redeemer, Sarnia. The Lord Jesus comes and visits us. The Holy Spirit does His work among us. The Word and love of God are proclaimed with joy and authority! We sing with profound biblical words about all that God does for us in Jesus - forgiveness, life and salvation! Renewal of our inner being by the Holy Spirit! The hope of the world to come! And this all wrapped up in music that the great orchestras of the world still sing (our hymns, as re-harmonized by Bach, are performed by many philharmonic orchestras all over the world). Are we thankful for that? Hopefully we are. But I hear complaints like, “We have to turn the pages of the hymnal! I don’t like the music! I want a printed service so I don’t have to turn the pages!” I want, I want, I don’t like, I don’t like … And I see people missing church for no good reason. My only response to that is, “Remember all those who are persecuted and martyred because they are Christians, then try to complain about turning a page or having to sit through a Service for about one hour, or a ‘’long’’ 1 hour and 15 minutes!”
You will say, “Pastor you are being harsh”. My goal is not to put you down, but it is to elevate you to joy. Instead of complaining, try praising God daily and as often as possible for all He gives you in the Church Service and through the teaching of the Gospel. Instead of complaining about others in your family or in the church, give thanks for all of God’s blessings for you through them! Also tell them how you appreciate them. You might make their day brighter! And tolerate the dark dots of their lives. Even better, forgive them as God forgives each and every one of us (remember the Lord’s Prayer??). Pray for them. Pray for your enemy. Love all people. I confess that, I too, need to grow in being thankful. I also tend to see the dark dots. God forgive us through Christ our Lord and help us do better!
This spirit of thanksgiving and praise will give you joy, for you will live in contentment and concentrate on being a disciple of Christ, on learning from His Word. God grant us to always give thanks!
From Luther’s Small Catechism, The Eighth Commandment.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbour, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.’’
‘’ I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.’’
~ Pastor Jason
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