What is the absolutely unique characteristic that separates followers of the Christian way from all other people who look for guidance in self-help manuals, theories, philosophies, or bio feed-back techniques? Is there some distinctive element of Christianity that is the sole property of the Christian Church? I want to suggest to you that there is such an element and it is deceptively simple—easier to describe than to put into practice.
So many people today are driven by a self-imposed demand for self-improvement: be less fat, learn new skills, use more effective deodorants, be more organized and efficient, or develop increased productivity. All those aims and goals may be just fine, but none will "earn" anyone peace and happiness. You may choose to do any of those things but motive is everything.
Here's what I'm getting at: All other human efforts to infuse life with meaning and purpose start from the perspective of getting something we don't already have, whereas Christianity starts with the understanding that we have already received all there is to have. What remains is how to say thanks for that incredible gift. We believe that, in Christ, we have been offered forgiveness for all of our shortcomings and failures with the assurance of everlasting life with God.
Christians who truly understand and accept God's gifts of forgiveness and eternal life are aware that everything is changed—a new way has been initiated. Our human strivings are not aimed at getting but at giving—giving thanks through everything we are and do. I like to think of it as Thanks-living.
The great thing about gratitude is that we can't keep it to ourselves. We have to find a way—a person—a strategy to express our thanks. Rather than seeking more for ourselves, we live for others—which is exactly what God wants!
How will we let God know how thankful we are? That's really our only job—every day. Think about it. It makes all the difference in the world.
Blessings for the Journey!