Thursday, November 15, 2007

Being Thankful: Rich and Poor

In our Sunday school class, we have been teaching the kids (grades 2-5) about thankfulness. "What are we thankful for?" "What does it mean to be thankful?" "What is most important in our lives?" One past Sunday we mixed things up a bit by showing them a VeggieTales video called Madame Blueberry. The story is about a lady who keeps trying to buy lots of stuff to make her happy, but it doesn't help.

I also recently read a blog post of a guy who is a friend of a friend of mine. He noted the correlation between religion and poverty, and atheism and wealth. After looking at the link he provided, it showed that the R-square in the analysis is 0.4855, which really isn't a very strong correlation anyway. But still, I'm sure we all remember from our statistics class that correlation doesn't imply causation. It's a fascinating link nonetheless, and one can draw many connections from it.

Both the video and the blog post got me pondering about our thankfulness for the stuff that we have. Since every good thing in our lives has been given to us by God (James 1:17), why are some Christians more "blessed" than others? Why are some Christians very wealthy, yet some barely scraping by?

God's view of blessings are completely different from society's view of what blessings are. Jesus wants us to be focused on eternity (Mark 8:35-36, Luke 18:22). When we think about eternity in regards to what God wants us to do during this short time that we are on Earth, then the blessings that society elevates become less important to us.

As we watched VeggieTales at church with the kids, I realized that it is very important to have a thankful heart for whatever I receive in my life. Simple analogy: somebody who receives an expensive Nintendo Wii video game system for their birthday can be just as thankful as somebody who receives a cheap little pad of paper. According to society, one gift would be considered awesome and one would be relatively crappy. But God wants our hearts to be just as thankful, no matter the gift.

We really don't deserve any gifts anyway. What we really deserve is death (Romans 6:23) for rebelling against God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully, Jesus died in our place (1 Peter 2:24). God let Jesus die as a sacrifice for our sinful lives (John 3:16-17). That's pretty sweet because it gives me perspective to be much more thankful for what God puts in my life.

What things in our lives do we think of as crappy, but when focusing on eternity they can actually be something worth thanking God for?

Chart from washingtonmonthly.com
Images from here and here.