And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:14, 16

 

The Advent season is all about awaiting the arrival of a gift. Yes, it’s during advent that we anticipate the greatest gift ever given, the birth of a child who would change the course of history. As you just read in John’s gospel, this amazing gift which God himself gave to us, is one of pure grace — we didn’t deserve it! As we approach Christmas day, let’s take a moment to pause and consider how we might receive this gift of grace, as well as how we might respond to it.

It Begins With A Gift
Christmas morning is finally here! The tree in your family room is swimming in handsomely wrapped presents. Within the pile you can easily identify which gifts you have carefully crafted and selected to be given to your loved ones. You hand one off to be opened and you begin watching. For me, usually at this point I start analyzing and scrutinizing every small muscle movement in their face, trying to get a sense of whether or not they like it. And then comes their response, the moment when they have unwrapped the gift just enough to get a glimpse of what it is: there’s a big smile (hopefully) and a jovial “thank you!” from the recipient.

As givers of a gift, it’s always that response of gratitude that we long for. It’s not nearly as fulfilling to give a gift when we can’t experience that look of joy and thankfulness on the face of the person receiving it. In a very real way it’s their response of gratitude that demonstrates that they have actually received the gift. And their response of gratitude also represents an invitation for you to participate in their joy!

On Christmas we give gifts to one another in order to celebrate the unbelievable gift of grace that God has given us in His son, Jesus Christ. So, in the same way, when we receive His gift of grace and respond with gratitude, we honor Him and participate in His endless joy. It is through our gratitude that we are actually sealed into the very gift of grace that God has provided for us!

The Root Of Grace
The connection between the words “grace” and “gratitude” might be even closer than you previously thought. Did you know that in New Testament Greek the word gratitude actually stems from the word grace? “Grace” is at the very root of “gratitude.” Take a look at the two words in Greek below:

GRACE — CHARIS — χάρις

GRATITUDE — EUCHARIST — εὐχαριστία

There it is! Smack dab in the middle of the word gratitude we see the word grace. The Greek word for gratitude literally means “the giving of thanks for God’s grace.”

One of my favorite ways to define the word “grace” is simply “God’s unmerited favor.” Grace is the love God has shown us in Christ, a love that we can’t earn and that we don’t deserve. The practice of gratitude begins with remembering the gift of grace found in the person of Jesus and continues onward as we say thank you in response to Him.

And so now it’s time to put this into practice. In so doing you are participating in the joy of God and allowing yourself to be sealed in His grace.

Practicing Gratitude

  • Where have you seen evidences of God’s unmerited favor this year? Write these down in a journal so you can look back and remember them next year.
  • Share these evidences and experiences of grace with your family or a close friend.
  • End your time with a celebration of God’s grace together by lifting up a prayer of gratitude in response to the amazing gift of Jesus Christ!