“But thanks be to God who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 – 15
It is November, which means we are in the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day when we gather together and give thanks for the preceding year. For those who farm, it is also a day to give thanks for the harvest. It is a time when we overeat, we laugh and watch the Macy’s day Thanksgiving parade and see all the wonderful floats and balloons. For those who love sports, football will be on the television with everyone rooting for their favorite teams with lots of whooping and hollering with each touchdown. Thanksgiving Day offers us space to enjoy time with family and friends. Or sometimes we don’t enjoy the time but endure the holiday for the sake of our family and friends who we don’t see often.
As I pondered Thanksgiving…I began to wonder about the definition of the words “thanksgiving” and “gratitude” as I hear both being used interchangeably. I didn’t see that big of a difference between the two but then I double checked my understanding of the words and while they both mean gratitude or the act of giving thanks, they do have a subtle difference. Thanksgiving is the verbal expression of being thankful while gratitude is the feeling of gratitude we have when we are truly thankful. Gratitude goes beyond the words we use and deep into our feelings. It seems to go with what Paul said while in jail and wrote that he had learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Which you will find those words in Philippians 4:12.
But then I ran across the verses from Corinthians that I put at the top of this post. What struck me with these were the words: “we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” While Paul begins by giving thanks to God, he then writes how God uses us to spread the aroma of God wherever we go…We, in all our words and deeds are a living sacrifice to God. Everything we do is a sacrifice. Everything we say is a sacrifice. And when we study the Old Testament, we learn that sacrifices were to be perfect, without blemish, as they were given to the most high God. The God of all creation. They were to be worthy of God and who God is. They are our offering…Ummmmmm…
I am not sure my every action and word measure up to that kind of offering to God. I can’t honestly say that every thing I say and do could be considered the “pleasing aroma of Christ.” Can you? If you are like me, you are probably saying “no” just as I am.
Which is why I am so grateful for God’s amazing grace and mercy in my life. Grateful because I feel it deep in my soul. It is not lip service but wells up from inside me as I offer my praise to God who created me, along with everyone else in the world, in God’s image. It is this gratitude to all God has done for me and will continue to do for me as God continues to refine me in God’s holy fire, that allows me to freely love (agape) all who God places in my life. It is not always easy. I have bad days just like everyone else does. My prayer is that when I am having a bad day, God doesn’t send anyone to me who is also having a bad day!!! Although now that I have written that down for all to see, I have a feeling God will do just that to stretch my faith.
This Thanksgiving, whether you are spending it with fifty or more relatives or you are spending the day working, or even alone, I pray that God will be with you. I pray that you will find gratitude in the day in all you are doing, who you are with, or who you are helping. May gratitude well up from deep in your soul for all the many blessings in your life. I hope too, that everyone will take a moment on Thanksgiving, every day would be awesome, to count your blessings. And as the song says: name them one by one. You will be surprised how many you have.
Let me start you off: I am grateful for every breath I take. I am grateful that I woke up this morning and God has given me one more day on this earth. I am grateful…well you get the idea.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with love and kindness. May God bless you and give you God’s deep abiding peace in all things. May you be the pleasing aroma of Christ in the world to all you meet each day.