Advent Devotional: First Sunday after Christmas Day

Blessed Son of God Woodcarving Nativity Scene

Gratitude as a Way of Life

December 30, 2018

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. —1 Timothy 4:4-5

There may be no time of year in American culture more prone to excess than the Christmas season. We would do well, therefore, to reflect on Paul’s comment that “everything created by God is good” (1 Tim. 4:4). What God made is good, but there is always the danger of corrupting what God has made.

Christians are to live life to the fullest, but it is not “anything goes!” For example, although the right use of food and sex have God’s blessing, gluttony and lechery fall under God’s curse.

One way to test if we are using God’s gifts properly is to ask this question: “Can I thank God for what I am doing right now without being ashamed of myself?” A sensitive Christian will find it impossible to thank God for ungodly excess.

Furthermore, true gratitude always leads to generosity. Christians who keep their food to themselves—or keep the benefits of family life to themselves, for that matter—are not receiving God’s gifts with thanksgiving after all.

When Paul speaks about thanksgiving, he may be referring to the practice of saying grace before meals. But giving thanks is not just for mealtimes. Gratitude is a whole way of life. Christians ought to give thanks to God for every good thing. G. K. Chesterton wrote:

You say grace before meals.

All right.

But I say grace before the play and the opera,

And grace before the concert and pantomime,

And grace before I open a book,

And grace before sketching, painting,

Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;

And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.3

Chesterton’s point is that God is to be praised for everything he has created. Therefore, let us remember that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4).

3 G. K. Chesterton, quoted in Dudley Barker, G. K. Chesterton: A Biography (New York: Stein and Day, 1973), 65.

How might your life change if you thanked God before every daily activity?

Let Us Pray

God of glory, teach us to receive all your good gifts with grateful hearts. Teach us to live life to the fullest without shame. Teach us to give to others as generously as you have given your life for us. Amen.

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