As I see the social media posts fly by this time of year, many people express their gratitude for material things – shelter, food, things, people in their lives, etc. These are good topics to be thankful for.
As followers of Jesus, what should be our focus – the gifts, or the Giver of those gifts?
This year, I choose to focus on the spiritual blessings that God showers us with every day. Looking at life with a fresh view of who God is, I see Him as a God of abundance, not of scarcity.
As we look at God as the God of abundant spiritual blessings, let’s take a look at a few:
God’s greatest attribute, His greatest example, His highest calling and purpose, is love. God loved us so much that He chose to redeem us even when we went our own way and rebelled against Him. He loved us sacrificially by paying for our sins with His own son Jesus, so that we might be in right relationship with Him again. The apostle John writes:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 NIV)
God is holy, just, and righteous; He cannot allow sin in His sight. We deserve His punishment and wrath for our sins, for our rebellion against Him. We have committed holy treason against God Almighty, and deserve the death penalty. And yet, because of God’s love, He chooses to show us mercy and not justice because of His Son’s payment for our sins.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah expressed God’s mercy well:
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV)
Not only does God love us and show mercy toward us – He also loves to love us!
God showers us with spiritual blessings every day, whether we deserve it or not. His grace to us is not based on performance, but on relationship.
The Apostle Paul expressed this well – first to the church at Ephesus, then to his young friend Timothy:
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
(Ephesians 2:6-9 NIV)
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
(1 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV)
- Life in Community
Not only does God love us, show mercy toward us, and shower us with spiritual blessings – He also shows us how to live in community.
- The Trinity – our spiritual example
God models community in the spiritual through God the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As author Larry Crabb stated, the Trinity is the only small group that has ever gotten along with each other and truly enjoyed one one another’s company.
- Jesus Christ – our physical example
God didn’t stop at the spiritual realm with His idea of community – He sent His Son Jesus to earth to live out an example of community for us to fully understand and comprehend what He intended to life together to be.
- Our lives – the “laboratory” and “practice room”
With Jesus’ example recorded in God’s Word, the Bible, we now get to model or emulate what what Jesus did – to love others. Yes, it’s hard and messy, because we live in a broken world, and we love imperfectly.
But loving others and living in community with them, however painful and messy, is not optional – it’s Jesus’ command:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
(John 13:34 NIV)
- The Trinity – our spiritual example
What spiritual blessings are you thankful for today?