“If we are not captured by God’s personality and character, displayed in his saving work, then all our declarations of thanksgiving are like the gratitude of a wife to a husband for the money she gets from him to use in her affair with another man. It is amazing that this same idolatry is sometimes even true when people thank God for sending Christ to die for them. Perhaps you have heard people say how thankful we should be for the death of Christ because is shows how much value God puts upon us. In other words, they are thankful for the cross as an echo of our worth. What is the foundation of this gratitude?
Jonathan Edwards calls it the gratitude of hypocrites. Why? Because “they first rejoice, and are elevated with the fact that they are made much of by God; and then on that ground, [God] seems in a sort, lovely to them….They are pleased in the highest degree, in hearing how much God and Christ make of them. So that their joy is really a joy in themselves, and not in God.” It is a shocking thing to learn that one of today’s most common descriptions of the cross-namely, how much of our value it celebrates- may well be a description of natural self-love with no spiritual value….He is showing us what the gospel is for. It is for the glory of God. And God is not glorified if the foundation of our gratitude for the gospel is the worth of its gifts and not the value of the Giver. If gratitude for the gospel is not rooted in the glory of God before the gift of God, it is disguised idolatry. May God grant us a heart to see in the gospel the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ. May he grant us to delight in him for who he is, so that all our gratitude for his gifts will be the echo of our joy in the excellency of the Giver!”
I thank you for the abundance of blessings that you have poured out upon my life…the tangible ones like my family, my friends, my education, my health, and my job…the intangible ones like your love, your mercy, your words in Scripture, your satisfaction in looking upon Christ as the atonement, your Son’s obedience even unto the cross, your Spirit in me, your grace, your sovereignty, really every part of your nature is a blessing in my life.
But I confess there are times where I have been ungrateful for these blessings. But, I even confess that there are times where I have loved these blessings more than you. I have loved the opinions of my family and friends more than you. I have loved the books and writings of mere men more than you. I have loved education more than you. I have loved sports more than you. I have loved technology more than you. I have loved the hope of marriage and children more than you. I have loved worship music more than the you, the object of that worship. I have loved my comfort level more than you. I have loved my satisfaction more than you. I have loved myself more than you.
Father, as I sit here praying, I am disgusted with the fact that I would have to be reminded to love you most. I despise the very idea that I would have to pray that you would make me love your glory and your majesty. Shouldn’t that be just as natural to me as breathing? No one has to teach a baby to take his first breath upon leaving the womb, and yet I have to be taught to love the God that created me and saved me and justified me and is sanctifying me. Oh what a sad sad person I am. Thank you for loving someone like me.
Strip it away Lord. Strip it all away. I mean, I don’t REALLY want you to have to strip it away, but I don’t know how else to get my ever wandering attention. It seems like the only way for me to focus on you and you alone is for there to be no other distractions, for I am easily distracted by shiny metal objects and promises of earthly things. Let my love for the shadows fade. Increase my love for you. Let me never love the gifts more than the Giver and the created things more than the Creator. May your glory blind me and your majesty astound me in every moment of every day so that I can’t help but love you most.