Before there can be Thanksgiving, there needs to be ThanksReceiving. But ThanksReceiving is actually harder than we think. To receive something is obviously a breeze. Hold out your hands and enjoy. But to truly give thanks, from the depths of your heart and not the syrupy plastic thanks, is an act of dependence and humility. It is putting the gift-giver in a place of honor and reverence, which by definition puts us “below” and somehow “in need”, which is about the last place we all want to be. It’s too vulnerable. Too childlike. Too helpless.
But this place of dependence is one of the cornerstones of the Gospel. As long as we believe that we aren’t in shocking and paralyzing need of Jesus and his Grace, we don’t really get the unfathomable extent of Jesus’ love and gift to us. We believe that, at least to some extent, we don’t really need THAT much grace and forgiveness; we need God’s gift of forgiveness, redemption and life, but not as much as _______. (see Jesus parable in Luke 18 about a Pharisee that thanks God he isn’t like these other people.)
In truth, the Gospel is so much better than we think. The gift is so so much bigger and more valuable than we realize. And as we realize this truth, we are drawn deeper and deeper into honest, worshipful passionate thanks-giving. But Thanksgiving only comes after ThanksReceiving as we hold our needy hands open to the Gift God has given.
2 Corinthians 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Tetelestai. It is Finished.
One Greek word.
One complete sentence.
The Entire Gospel.
This tattoo is on my buddy Scott Stewart. It’s his only tattoo (so far) and is there to be a perpetual reminder of what is most important…that Jesus has completely accomplished everything needed to bring us life, love, hope and peace. His entire life was lived in humble, sinless, sacrificial obedience, culminating in the Grand Finale on the Cross where he became the perfect sacrifice our rebellion required. But that’s not all. If he “only” died for our sins, then we still would be lacking in the required righteousness needed to be in God’s presence. So while taking our sins upon him, he put his perfection on (in) us. And it is finished. We can neither add nor subtract from his perfection. Our darkest failures have already been fully paid for and even hidden from God’s sight. They cannot subtract from the imputed righteousness we have in Jesus. Likewise, all of my “good deeds” added up cannot adjust my status before God in the slightest. Not in the slightest. I try really hard to stay away from the really naughty things, and now I want some divine-credit for my humility. Well, that’s what my sinful heart says at least. But the really good news is that the Gospel is Jesus+Nothing. God didn’t give me his perfection and then I threw on some gravy to make it a little better. There is nothing better. When I believe that my behavior adjusts my status before God and when I think that my personal righteousness has an impact on God’s love for me, I am fundamentally saying that Jesus’ righteousness wasn’t enough…that my sin diluted it or my goodness added to it.
So be free. Confident. Satisfied. Your Father dances over you with singing not because you are good but because He is.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
“Thou hast made us for thyself,
and our heart is restless
until it finds its rest in thee.”
But for you who fear my name,
the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.
You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.