The Biblical instruction to give thanks in all situations is no easy task and requires us to override our emotions and live by faith. Emotions are not bad, but they are driven by circumstances that are often out of our control.
Emotions are a wonderful thing when everything is good. Yet, when things are not good, they become a terrible master. Our ability to be grateful at all times hinges on perspective.
After observing people, John Maxwell and concluded, “your perspective is your reality.” How I perceive life is influenced by one of three things; what I see, what I feel, or what I believe.
This is why trusting what God has said is critical in our day-to-day lives. Another way we can maintain the correct mindset is to remain on mission.
When we stray from our mission, we see things differently, which influences what we say and do, leading us out of God’s will. It’s when we step outside God’s will that we find ourselves tangled in matters that rob us of joy, peace and negatively impact our effectiveness.
As a follower of Jesus, we don’t live for happiness, or money, or success. In their proper context, these pursuits can bring glory to God, but we live for a higher purpose.
The mission of a Christian can be summed up this way; To know God, to love God, and make Him know.
In Luke 15, we read how tax collectors and sinners are drawing near to Jesus, and the religious leaders of the day are appalled. That can’t comprehend why a man like Jesus would associate with such individuals.
Their perspective blinded them from seeing themselves as they saw others. That’s dangerous.
In the original language, the word “sinner” means to miss the mark; erring from the way. This describes all of us. Even pious religious people!
- Apart from the grace of God, we are in contempt of righteousness.
- Apart from God’s grace, we are wretched people.
None is righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” Isaiah 64:6
“all have fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
The word “all” in these passages means all, no exceptions! Pharisees, tax collectors, you and me alike have missed the mark.
The Pharisees and scribes were blinded by their spiritual routines and neglected the reality that they were sinners. Likewise, we cannot fully comprehend the immense love of God until we recognize our sinfulness.
When we come to grips that we are a sinner saved by grace because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, then we will begin to see how GREAT the love of God is for us.
Otherwise, we may feel that we have done something to earn God’s love and forgiveness.
So to help stir up their memory of their mission and purpose as Israel’s shepherds, Jesus shares a parable about a shepherd and sheep. It’s interesting how often the Bible refers to Christians as sheep. Sheep are hardheaded, stubborn, and naturally rebellious.
In this parable, Jesus describes a shepherd who owns one hundred sheep. And we are presented with a rhetorical question: If you were to lose one of your sheep, would you not leave the ninety-nine to find the one?
Of course, you would! A shepherd who doesn’t will eventually run out of sheep to lose. On the other hand, a good shepherd will safely leave the ninety-nine and search for the one.
Jesus says in verse four that He would search until he finds it. This reveals the persistence and determination of the good shepherd; He doesn’t give up on you!
In Ezekiel 34, we learn how the shepherds of Israel, aka spiritual leaders, defaulted on their responsibility, and God stated that He would shepherd His people and locate the scattered sheep!
Think about that. Kings assigned governors and administrators to oversee the people of their kingdom. God does not allow the typical rules of engagement to keep Him from pursuing you!
It’s no wonder that tax collectors and sinners were drawn to Jesus.
Being His follower is not just about having our names written in the Lamb’s book of life, our Heavenly reservation, but in sharing the good news with as many people as possible in as many ways as possible that they may know how much God loves them.
The reality that God will safely leave the ninety-nine to pursue the one (that’s you and me) gives us one-hundred reasons to be thankful in all circumstances!