26. When gratitude is more than an attitude.
Ephesians 5:3-4. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes — these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. (NLT)
In this passage Paul strongly denounces sexual sins and greed, described first in general terms and then referring to sexually inappropriate speech. As an antidote to these sins, he advises thankfulness. At first this didn’t make sense to me. How was thanksgiving the opposite of or the cure for sexual sin, especially since Paul’s emphasis is on sinful sexual language?
Once again, O’Brien’s commentary was very helpful for me. He points out that thanksgiving “is the distinctive mark of Christian speech;” giving thanks verbally reflects a completely different attitude from the sins just described. Sexual sins and greed are self-centered and arise from a desire to please myself; thanksgiving is the opposite and focuses on God’s generosity. “Thanksgiving is almost a synonym for the Christian life. It is the response of gratitude to God’s saving activity in creation and redemption, and thus a recognition that he is the ultimate source of every blessing.” *
The emphasis here is on how to talk. The positive message of this passage is to be thankful to God. I usually think of this as an attitude, but in this passage verbally giving thanks is a concrete action which is the opposite of crude speech.
How can my conversation be full of gratitude today? I will look for opportunities:
- to tell others about a blessing God has given me,
- to let someone know how grateful I am for him or her,
- to pray my thanks to God each time I recognize a gift.
Father, please help me remember to be thankful and to develop the habit of rehearsing your gracious blessings to me, our family, our church, our country… Amen.
*O’Brien, Peter T (1999). The Letter to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, p 361.
From the personal devotional notes of Peggy McKechnie, certified life coach and follower after God’s own heart. You are invited to contact Peggy through ChurchHealthMinistries.com.