One of the best examples of the discipline of thanksgiving involves Jesus delivering food to the crowds. There are many good lessons here but I want to focus on lifting up and thanking God for the example that is about to take place. There is a special emphasis on Jesus attributing to God the presentation and the work of giving to others. Thanksgiving came from a heart that knew God is faithful and could provide. This trust precedes and create the space for thankfulness; the thanking is an outward worship of God and the result is a powerful display of God’s goodness. I often wonder if we are truly a thankful people, lack of adversity, lack of passion, and lack of power seem to be more a result of ungratefulness (rooted in not trusting) and even doubt toward God’s provision and desire to reveal himself through the outward expression of miracles and revelation.
As I read these stories and directions I find myself questioning more and more the efficacy of the ministry models and life application of thankfulness in my own life. Thankfulness requires far more attention and devotion than we’ve given it to date.
There are countless other areas of life that require mature discipline. I believe that the power of God and His mission cannot be displayed or enacted without discipline; there is no structureless guesswork in the Gospel… there is commitment and calling but even those are dependent on discipline.
One of my favorite disciplines is seeking. I believe the desire for truth and the pursuit of God require much discipline. We can get so caught up in the action of church life that we miss out on the great mystery and adventure of finding the deeper life with all its paradox, passion, and wonder.
Another neglected discipline that is ever increasing in the lives of the people I revere most in my life is sacrificial living or as some call it, “giving until it hurts” or servant leadership (or whatever it’s called these days?) I agree with T. Austin Sparks and Tozer about the outer-shell of life, namely that it is meant for the display and proclamation of the Gospel and was never intended to be adorned with frivolous pursuits. As disciples we must understand (or at least come to the understanding openly) that the call of God in Christ isn’t a call to “gain more to give more”, It is a full-bore call to the cross, to laying one’s life aside to be bread for others. This hurts, only a little at first because the gain is so much, but the further you go it seems the more that is asked of you, Christ becomes the treasure and the gain grows more and more. This is a discipline because if you do not devote to it the actual practice and power that comes with it will never develop. When I look at the landscape of middle to upper-class Christians in their comfortable pews and their cathedral-like buildings not embracing mission and neglecting their own communities this discipline is likely the most lacking in their lives, they read the scripture, they worship the same Lord, but they have forsaken the call to “give it all to get Christ”. Our own comfort and fulfillment is wrapped up in union with Christ not financial, social, or even “spiritual” accomplishment.
Join me in thanksgiving as a lifestyle, seeking as a motivation, and sacrificing everything for the Glory of God.