360 Gratitude, Part 1: The Perspective of Heaven

Giving thanks is not a sentiment. It is a choice. By doing so, we acknowledge three of many things: (1) It is the perspective of Heaven. (2) It is a spiritual sword. (3) It is a return to reality. When Apostle Paul commands us to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:20), he is calling for an alignment between what is going on in Heaven with what is going on in us. He gives four descriptors of what that looks like. Two are musical: singing to one another and in our own hearts (for Heaven is filled with a spectrum of songs). Another is relational: mutually responsive honor (for Heaven is filled with such place-giving). But the other is the giving of thanks “always and for everything”. This is gratitude with a 360-degree inclusion radius.

How can this be? The cares of our life–let alone the affairs of the world–are seldom a natural cause for thanksgiving. But because Heaven has ultimate dominion “always and for everything,” we, whose spirits through Christ are seated in Heaven, can potentially include all things within the domain of our thanksgiving. Extending our thanks to include hospitalization, or frustrations at work, or losing a great opportunity is a daunting task until we understand that our heavenly Father’s goodness is not constrained by naturally happy circumstances. Since the revelation of God in Jesus Christ shows us His ability to traverse all domains, be they living or dying, be they good or evil, we see that nothing is beyond His creative ability to convert into glory and joy. This is how “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28): not through naïve optimism; not through the power of positive thinking; but through the grace of the Suffering Servant who is also the King and Anointed Conqueror.

Paul describes the totality of our inheritance in Christ when he writes, “All things are yours,  whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (I Corinthians 3:21-23 ESV) Regarding marriage, and food, he writes that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (I Timothy 4:5)

Thanksgiving, therefore, places us on the same level as that from which Heaven sees all things. If we liken our lives to an athletic competition, it is “the zone”, the “sweet spot”. And if we liken the Holy Spirit to a certain Wi-Fi wavelength in the air–the Wi-Fi of Heaven–then thanksgiving is its Wi-Fi password. By it we gain unlimited access to all the uploads and downloads of Heaven’s communication. But what is different about Heaven’s Wi-Fi is that is does not remain outside of us in a device made by man. We ourselves, created in God’s image, become the modem, the place where Heaven’s data resides. We become filled with the Holy Spirit.


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