John 1:16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
This is such a marvelous verse! I like the way the Japanese puts it: “grace on top of grace.” We are all so prone to take things for granted, making it harder and harder to recognize unmerited blessings for what they are. My wife and I have been working with Cockayne Syndrome families for about 20 years now, and that will give you a fresh perspective on life. Cockayne children generally start out seeming perfectly healthy and normal, but then as time passes, instead of gaining new abilities they start losing the ones they have. Rapid aging is part of the picture, but far from all of it. This past week we had a visit from one family whose daughter is 20. They had pictures of her when she was three, happily running around like any other child. Now she is confined to a wheelchair – a stroller, really – and is unable to speak, no taller than an 8-year-old and with few abilities of any sort. We don’t think about the reality that apart from the grace of God, none of us would be any better off than that girl. We speak of Cockayne Syndrome as a genetic disease, but none of us deserve any better. Life itself is a gift, and every faculty, every ability is because of God’s grace and love. Ingratitude poisons us, leaving us unable to enjoy what we have and souring our every relationship. When we really grasp what John says here, that we have received grace on top of grace, then we are set free to delight in God’s goodness and be open channels of His blessings to those around us.
Now in my middle 60’s, I am only starting to experience the various effects of aging myself. Frankly, it’s not much fun at times, but I have had the blessing of working with people with all sorts of handicaps, and I do indeed realize how blessed I am. As a pastor, I find that ingratitude is one of the devil’s strongest tools for stealing people’s peace and joy. Envy and jealousy are just two faces of ingratitude, and there are many more. I try to help people understand how blessed they really are, but some of them will hear none of it. That can be downright heartbreaking at times. I am at times tempted to complain at having to work with such ungrateful people, but then I realize that such complaining is itself a form of ingratitude! I am to extend to them the grace that has been shown to me, teaching by example as much as by word, so that they may be led out of the devil’s traps into the abundance that God has prepared for them. They only have to realize how much abundance they have already been given, to step into more and more!
Father, thank You for this Word. I’m tempted to preach it this morning, instead of the message that is prepared! Thank You for the abundance of what You show and speak to me. Lord, I couldn’t begin to catalog all of Your blessings to me. Help me walk always in appropriate gratitude, letting Your grace and love flow through me to those around me, for Your praise and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!