Sometimes in our thanksgiving journey, we just have to circle back to some very basic truths, like the fact that to be grateful and express it is a very profound gift that God has given us as human beings. It is a huge antidote to the potential that we have to, easily and quite naturally, see flaws and mistakes, glitches and problems.
In some respects seeing those flaws and problems is good because it helps us to stay safe in different situations, and improve things in others. For some people this is part of their job. We want our doctor to see what is wrong with us and we want the safety officer to detect problems before an accident happens, but if we wear those glasses that critique everything all the time, especially in the church or among our friends and family, we become quite uncomfortable to be around and our focus on what is wrong or what can be improved can cause distance and separation.
Yesterday we were thinking about how the Lord rejoices over us not because we suddenly became perfect when we became Christians but because He sees us through the eyes of a Saviour. He sees us in our beautiful garments of splendor, the robes of righteousness for which He paid such a huge price. He still plans to change us to become like Himself, but He celebrates the choice we made to accept that offer of forgiveness and to lay our lives before Him, so that we can live now for His glory and be clothed in His glory too.
It is important that we recognise that Jesus sees us in this way, so that we can in turn view others through His eyes. I wonder if this was part of Paul’s thinking when he wrote ‘From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ 2 Corinthians 5:16,17. Paul realises he nearly missed the Messiah because he was viewing him through the wrong glasses, finding fault with His teaching and claims. The Authorised Version translates this phrase ‘we recognise no man after the flesh’, which I think is helpful in this context.
If we view our brothers and sisters ‘after the flesh’, we can well find that we miss some very precious things that the Lord has done and is doing in their lives. If we only find ourselves looking at their shortcomings and faults, instead of seeing them as Christ sees us, we will not be able to encourage and envision them for the purposes that God has for them. The nation of Israel was in quite a mess when the Lord spoke to them saying “You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God”. Isaiah 62:3.
In Jesus last prayer for His followers He says “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”. John 17:21-23.
The interesting thing here is that none of the disciples were perfect from that point on. Some like Peter made big mistakes. This wasn’t about suddenly becoming perfect, but about being united as carriers of the glory of God. Jesus Himself had given them His glory, and He wanted their unity to be about the fact that He was living in each one of them.
If I can stay with a heart of thankfulness for my brothers and sisters, thanking God that He lives in them and that He is at work in each precious life for His glory, then I will be able to bless them more freely, rejoice in their victories and point them to the grace of God, that they are needing, to walk as Jesus would have them to walk. Thanksgiving helps me to have the right glasses on when I view my brothers and sisters. I will see them ‘not after the flesh’ but as a ‘new creation’, being beautifully moulded and transformed into His likeness.