-John Piper, Future Grace
This post is one of many in the Future Grace Series I am doing with my sister. Be sure to check out her thoughts on this chapter!
I remember the first time I read this sentence. It kind of shook my spiritual foundation a little bit. My first experience of Christianity was based on rule keeping. I always felt that I should follow God's rules because of what He did for me and "be thankful." But honestly, sometimes it was a begrudging thankfulness. An "I know I should be thankful so I will be obedient" kind of living. Sort of like this:
"Starving people would be happy to have that!" Soul, you should be obedient because you are grateful (or you have this meatloaf, so be grateful and EAT IT!)
Does that make sense? I am grateful. Every day I am thankful for the complete and finished work of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. But so often I don't always remember what that means for me in my struggle to be obedient. And I have to remind myself with God's Word:
" For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:18-25.
Paul isn't using gratitude here to encourage his friends during a time of trial. He is using hope. The hope that we have in Christ of all things being made new (Revelation 21:5). I think Piper is pointing to that hope as our motivation for obedience instead of just gratitude. That really encourages me on days that I am weary and struggling or stuck in some sin that I have struggled with constantly. My obedience can be pretty sloppy (like Ralphie's brother finishing that meatloaf!) But that hope of what Christ has in store for us in our future is wonderful for me to look forward to. And for that...I am grateful.