Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gratitude in Francis Schaeffer's Spirituality

Further, I think there are two practical tests as to when we are coveting against God or men; first, I am to love God enough to be contented; second, I am to love men enough not to envy.

Let us pursue these two tests. First, in regard to God: I am to love God enough to be contented, because otherwise even our natural and proper desires bring us into revolt against God. God has made us with proper desires, but if there is not a proper contentment on my part, to this extent I am in revolt against God, and of course revolt is the whole central problem of sin. When I lack proper contentment, either I have forgotten that God is God, or I have ceased to be submissive to him. We are now speaking about a practical test to judge if we are coveting against God. A quiet disposition and a heart giving thanks at any given moment is the real test of the extent to which we love God at that moment. I would like to give some strong words to you from the Bible to remind us that this is God's own standard for Christians. "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks" (Ephesians 5:3, 4).

Thus, the "giving of thanks" is in contrast to the whole black list that stands above. In Ephesians 5:20 it is even stronger: "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." How inclusive are these "all things" for which we are to give thanks? These same "all things" are also mentioned in the book of Romans (chapter 8, verse 28): "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." This is not a kind of magic-the infinite-personal God promises that he will work all things together for the Christian's good.

Here I am told that if I am a true Christian, "all things" work together for my good. It is not all things except the sorrow; it is not all things except the battle. We throw the words "all things" in Romans 8:28 around all things. We do honor to God and the finished work of Christ as we throw that circle around the whole; all things work together for good to those who love God, for those who are the called according to his purpose. But to the extent to which we properly throw the term "all things" around all things, it carries with it also the "all things" of Ephesians 5:20: "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father. . . ." We cannot separate these two. The "all things" of Ephesians 5:20 is as wide as the "all things" of Romans 8:28. It must be giving of thanks for all things-this is God's standard.

Philippians deals with this also. In Philippians 4:6 we read, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

"Be careful for nothing" here means: Do not be overcome by care in anything, by worry in anything, but rather by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. Of course, this is a statement concerning prayer in contrast to the worry, but at the same time it carries with it the direct command to thank God in the midst of the prayer for the "everything." Or we may note Colossians 2:7: "Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." You will notice this is linked to the sixth verse: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." What does it mean to walk in Christ? It is to be "rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith." (And there are many of us who think this is by faith; the instrument to do this is faith) ". . . abounding therein with thanksgiving." The final note is on the thanksgiving.

Then we find in Colossians 3:15: "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful." And verse 17: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." And again in Colossians 4:2: "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving."

These words about thanksgiving are in one sense hard words. They are beautiful, but they do not give us any room to move-the "all things" includes all things.

We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." And this is linked to the next verse, verse 19: "Quench not the Spirit." Surely one thing is clear. God says to us: in everything give thanks.

I think we can see all this in its proper perspective if we go back to Romans 1:21: "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasoning, and their foolish heart was darkened." This is the central point: they were not thankful. Instead of giving thanks they "became vain in their reasonings and their foolish heart was darkened." Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. The beginning of mens' rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart. They did not have proper, thankful hearts-seeing themselves as creatures before the Creator and being bowed not only in their knees, but in their stubborn hearts. The rebellion is a deliberate refusal to be the creature before the Creator, to the extent of being thankful. Love must carry with it a "Thank you," not in a superficial or "official" way, but in being thankful and saying in the mind or with the voice, "Thank you" to God.

Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (downloaded e-book, italics original).

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