November 2018 Article

Dear JUMC Family and Friends,

I was just looking at a calendar of various November Holidays. I found many that you might expect, such as All Saints Day (November 1), Thanksgiving (November 22), etc. I also found Black Friday (November 23) and Cyber Monday (November 26) listed a “state holidays”! This surprised me a bit, but in retrospect it probably shouldn’t have. Contrasted with Thanksgiving, we are reminded of the perpetual conflict between gratitude and greed. This month, I want to explore these together.

Greed says “I must have more.” Gratitude says, “I have enough”. Greed says, “My life is not complete”. Gratitude says, “I am so blessed”. Greed is a joy-robber. Gratitude restores true joy.  Greed breeds selfishness. Gratitude releases generosity. Greed leads to covetousness. Gratitude fosters contentment.

Here’s another thought. Greed can actually lead to gratitude…when the desire is met. The problem is, this kind of gratitude is circumstantial, and therefore temporary. It isn’t long before some new “toy” captures our attention. Greed again manifests in our desire to have the new, the latest, the beautiful—and the praise that goes with it. This is compounded with the jealousy that can develop toward those who already have (or seem to have) what we want (or think we want). The Bible describes this as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:15-17) that comes from misdirected love.

You see, love is what you and I were created for. Love for God, love for others. When sin entered into God’s perfect creation, this love shifted its focus to “the world and the things of the world”. It seeks to please self rather than God. This in turn gave rise to the brokenness in our hearts, lives, home, and communities. 

The good news? God loved us too much to leave us this way with no recourse. This is why He sent Jesus! The Bible says that Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for us. When you and I turn from our sin toward Jesus and place our faith in Him, this love is restored to us by the Holy Spirit who comes to live in us. We are able to love God, who first loved us. We are able to love others as we are loved. This love becomes the motive of our thoughts, words, and actions until we are received into eternal glory.

Now, that’s something to be grateful for!