Whenever I have a fortune cookie, I have to read the fortune. Most of them are more of a puzzle than they are wisdom, but on occasion I receive one that makes me think.
This fortune has been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks, and I have read it periodically. “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” I believe it is important to live a life of gratitude, but I would like to rephrase the fortune for you. “Gratitude toward Jesus is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” After all, where would we be without a Savior!
When you realize that without Jesus you are nothing and have nothing, it puts a whole new twist on the fortune. Paul is very poignant about this fact in these words.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14).
Paul was trained as a Pharisee, which made him very knowledgeable of the scriptures. He felt the Christian movement was against Judaism, and fought fiercely against the Christians. Yes, Paul even persecuted them prior to his salvation. (Acts 9:1-9).
God took all of Paul’s strengths (his knowledge of the scriptures) and weaknesses (persecuting Christians) and turned him into a great missionary. No other person in history has impacted Christianity like Paul. Our gratitude needs to go beyond Jesus. We need to also be thankful for Paul, because he brought the gospel to the Gentiles. Without his hard work and dedication to the Lord, we would not have the Christian foundation we have today.
Like Paul, we too are sinners. We all make mistakes, have faith struggles, and question our abilities to be a disciple of Christ. Yet we are all worthy to be a servant and a witness of Jesus Christ.
God used Paul in mighty ways, and for that I am truly thankful. Jesus Christ took all of my sins to the cross, and I can only repay that debt in one way. I choose to live a life of gratitude toward Jesus and to be His faithful disciple in the work He presents before me. I will hold tight to the truths Paul wrote to the Gentiles, so many years ago. These Words are God breathed, timeless, and true for all who believe in the power of Jesus.
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:3-6).
- What “good work” has Jesus begun within you which you need to finish?
- What is your greatest fear, or hurdle which keeps you from becoming a true disciple of Jesus? Find a scripture which erases that fear and helps you understand true grace.
- Record your daily gratitude each day for a month. You will be amazed at the changes in your heart.