Thanking in circles

You read it right.  Not thinking in circles, but thanking. Charissa McElroy said it well in her comment this week, “Paul’s gratitude seems more circular, more round, intrinsically connecting the giver, the receiver, and God.”  I noticed the same thing and was pondering its implications.

When I was a kid, I thanked for the gift.  My mind was on the thing.  When I grew up, I noticed the person behind the gift.  I began to recognize the character qualities that prompted the person to give to me–kindness, generosity, unselfishness.  When I became a believer, I saw the God behind the person.  I understood that God had produced those qualities in him by changing him from the inside out.

My thanks now goes two directions.  I thank God for the person, for his magnificent work of grace in them that has produced a generous heart.  And I thank the person, not just for the gift, but for being the conduit of God’s grace to me.  There is a richness to this three dimensional giving that transcends the simple act of donating money.  It is more like a dance than a line item in a budget.  Thanking each other in this “circular” way actually continues the flow of grace by recognizing God’s grace in them.

Merry Christmas to all… This is the final post of our Philippian study.  Thank you to all who participated in any way.  I have heard tidbits from various people about how God is feeding them with his word.  He takes our hunger seriously, doesn’t he?  And his word is more satisfying as our taste for it grows.

I will be taking a break from blogging for the rest of December, because I will be chasing my grandchildren around…But I want to suggest that we each pick up a gospel to read for the rest of the month.  I love to look at the life of Christ during December, because there is always more to see in the details of the narrative.  One year I read Luke with the question, “How did Jesus obey God for me?”  In scene after scene his obedience took on three dimensionality.  As I put myself into each scene, asking, “how would I have responded to this?”, I became aware of temptations he resisted, kindness he showed, faith he exercised, love he demonstrated, truth he articulated.  Every instance became a source of joy–because he is my righteousness!  It was a practical way to lay hold of his perfect life as my record today, keeping me from self-righteous pride or despair.

That is just one way to do it.  You will probably think of a different question.  Enjoy thinking about his life as we prepare to celebrate his birth.

….and a Happy New Year! In January I plan to start up again, so that we can continue practicing our “cooking technique”.  Are you finding that your skills are improving as you go?  I learn new things every time.  Let’s move to an Old Testament book next–Jonah.  It’s an adventure to see Christ whispered in the minor prophets.  Look for the next post the first Monday of the New Year.  Join us and bring a friend!

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