Dec 1

During this Thanksgiving week there is a great push toward being grateful for our blessings. Aren’t you glad there’s that emphasis?! Another thing to be, um, thankful for this week…

Have you ever thought about the relationship between being thankful, being humble, and being generous? In John Maxwell’s book that our men have been studying on Wednesday nights, there is this insightful quote.

“We do not stay grateful because that makes us indebted, and we don’t want to be indebted…Gratitude is acknowledging that someone did something for me that I could not do for myself. Gratitude expresses our vulnerability, our dependence on others.” (Fred Smith via John Maxwell)

Humility and gratitude feed off each other. They each encourage the other. But perhaps it is gratitude that is especially dependent upon humility. To be truly grateful is to recognize your dependence upon someone else who has provided you with something you could not experience on your own. That may be why some find it hard to express true and genuine feelings of gratitude. To do so is to be vulnerable, to acknowledge your dependence upon others, to be indebted. And as the quote says, we don’t want to be indebted.

The apostle Paul was okay with being vulnerable, and dependent. It led him to be grateful and gave others the opportunity to be generous. He expressed his gratitude in several places, including to that great church which supplied a lot of his support and made it possible for him to do such great mission work: the church at Philippi.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus… 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Phil. 1:3-6; 4:14-20)

You can help some needy families this Thanksgiving week. Our friends and neighbors at South Fork Elementary School have reached out to us for our help. They have 90% of their student families on Title 1 assistance. Their students come from many cultural backgrounds, with 28 different languages spoken. Few parents are involved in PTA or do other volunteer work. Their goal is to provide 25 of their most needy families with gift cards from Wal-Mart for food, clothing, and Christmas needs. This is the generous part—one of the fruits of humility and gratitude is helping others. If you want to be part of this effort make your check out to the church here and mark in the Memo line that it is for South Fork Elem School. And thanks for your humility, your gratitude, and your generosity.

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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