Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dumbfounded with Inexpressible Joy

I thought about saving this post for Thanksgiving week, but it flows along so nicely with the contentment post the other day that I decided to go ahead and post it now. Besides, we are supposed to be thankful all the time and not just on Thanksgiving, right? This is another of Milton Vincent’s “Reasons to Rehearse the Gospel Daily” from his book A Gospel Primer.

The more absorbed I am in the gospel, the more grateful I become in the midst of my circumstances, whatever they may be.

Viewing life’s blessings as water in a drinking cup, I know that I could discontentedly focus on the half of the cup that seems empty, or I could gratefully focus on the half that is full. Certainly, the latter approach is the better of the two, yet the gospel cultivates within me a richer attitude than this.

The gospel reminds me first that what I actually deserve from God is a full cup churning with the torments of His wrath (Revelation 14:10; Psalm 75:8). This is the cup that would be mine to drink if I were given what I deserve each day. With this understanding in mind, I see that to be handed a completely empty cup from God would be cause enough for infinite gratitude. If there were merely the tiniest drop of blessing contained in that otherwise empty cup, I should be blown away by the unbelievable kindness of God toward me. That God, in fact, has given me a cup (Psalm 116:12-13; Psalm 23:5) that is full of “every spiritual blessing in Christ,” (Ephesians 1:3) and this without the slightest admixture of wrath, leaves me truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy. As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as infinite improvements on the hell I deserve.

When I look at any circumstance that God apportions me, I am first grateful for the wrath I am not receiving in this moment (The empty part of the cup never looked so good!). Secondly, I am grateful for the blessings that are given to me instead of His wrath. (Life’s blessings, however small, always appear exceedingly precious when viewed against the backdrop of the wrath I deserve.) This two-layered gratitude disposes my heart to give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and it also lends a certain intensity to my giving of thanks. Such a gospel-generated gratitude glorifies God, contributes to peace of mind (Philippians 4:6-7), and keeps my foot from the path of foolishness and ruin. (Romans 1:21-22, 28-29)

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