Learning to be Grateful

By Andy Addis

I am not grateful enough for Jesus.

I am thankful I am aware of this, and I am crying out to God to help me become more tender to all Jesus has done for me, asking Him to increase my gratitude. Writing this to you is a way for me to do that.

I know Jesus loves me and that He loves me more and better than anyone else can or would. But my wife loves me – there is no doubt of that. My kiddos love me; I know because they tell me. My mom loves me, but she has to.

So, honestly, in my head, it sometimes gets lost and a little muddy that Jesus loves me, because I am a blessed man and I know lots of love.

Jesus loved us so much that He died for me and you. Yet there may be others who would choose that path if they were in that situation.

Jesus, however, is three things for me that no one else can be: perfect, willing and able. Because of these three things, I should be eternally grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.

Perfect. Jesus was not a good man, a great teacher, or a mid-level deity. He is and was the eternal Son of God and Incarnate Man (meaning He was fully God and fully man, simultaneously). And, as He walked this earth as a man, He was perfect. “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). I know some good people, maybe even some great ones, but Jesus is the only perfect person ever to walk the earth. And, because of that, He is the only one able to be a sacrifice for you and me. Anything less than perfect, and the sacrifice was blemished, just like us. We cannot save ourselves, but Jesus’ perfect condition made Him a suitable sacrifice.

I am grateful.

Willing. I know you may be thinking that there is someone who would be willing to die for you. You’re probably right. I hope so! But they probably would die for you because they like you and you are at least somewhat likable to them. Yeah, I’m sure you get on each other’s nerves, and maybe there has been a tense day between the two of you, but there is a connection that causes you to believe they would take a bullet for you. That was not the case with Jesus. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:7–8). Don’t miss what that verse says. While we were still sinners – rebellious, fighting Him and in blatant disagreement and disobedience – that’s when He was willing to die for us. Not once we bend a knee, admit our fault or make a change. Before you ever had a good thought, and while you and I were still rotten, He died for us.

I am grateful.

Able. This is the most distinct of the three characteristics listed here. It is not theologically possible, but if someone could live a perfect life, then good for them. It’s not plausible, but someone who I mistreat and fight against might choose to die for me. But the one sure thing that separates them from Jesus is His ability. As the Son of God, He was not just perfect and willing, but He could defeat hell, death and the grave for us. He literally died and rose again on the third day! “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). Some good and even great people may die for others, but only One had the power to lay His life down and take it back up again. Only One, only Jesus!

I am grateful.

Thank you for taking a moment to read through these thoughts. As a believer in Jesus for nearly four decades, I need to ensure that I am not growing cold or callous to the reality of who He is and what He has done. He is perfect, willing and able.

I am grateful. I hope you are, too.

This post originally appeared at The Rural Pastor.

Published August 16, 2023

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