S79P3 – Notes on gratitude: the opportunities we are given

1 Tim. 1:12-13

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has granted me the needed strength and made me able for this, because He considered me faithful and trustworthy, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer of our Lord and a persecutor of His church and a shameful and outrageous and violent aggressor toward believers. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief.

They were just young kids who had no idea what they wanted to do in life.  They worked in her store because they needed to work, but none of them really saw that as a career opportunity.  Of all the guys, the owner expected the oldest one to be the most mature and professional, but this was not the case.  Still, she had a plan for that kid.  It was on a Monday morning that she pulled him aside and told him that she would like to groom him to manage the store.  When she told her friends of this decision, they questioned why she would want to place someone so immature and seemingly directionless in a position which requires a lot of trust.  She explained that she placed him in that position not because he was trustworthy but as an opportunity for him to become so.

When we read the writings of Paul, we see a man who believes in the promises of God yet finds it so unbelievable that He was placed in the ministry position God ordained for him.  His writings speak of a man who is constantly reminded of the gifts God has given him, which could not be earned.  His gratitude comes through when he says in one breath that he was so evil yet in another breath that God found him trustworthy and faithful.  He sees that through Christ the Father has imputed to him qualities which only come from Christ, placing him in position by grace.  Then, it is in that place that he begins to develop those traits.  Jesus was faithful, and his faithfulness is imputed to us, then the Father counts us as faithful and puts us in positions to develop that faithfulness.  Gratitude recognizes that we do not earn these opportunities for growth but receive them only as a result of grace.

It is impossible to be thankful the way God wants us to be thankful if we do not recognize the role of mercy and grace in our lives.  That is the only way we are given the chance to serve in God’s kingdom and do a good work for him.  The positions to which He assigns us never could be earned.  We do not have the credentials necessary for God’s work, and we never could obtain them on our own.  Mercy and grace operate to impute Christ’s stamp of approval on us, which then opens the door for us to occupy positions in the kingdom which are gifts.  Paul understood that he was placed there not because of himself but because of Jesus.  Father, increase in us our thankfulness and appreciation for the opportunities we receive through your grace because of your Son’s faithfulness.