Another year, another Thanksgiving, and another day to remember to be thankful. The Bible commands us to be thankful (Colossians 3:15), but I have always had a difficult time assessing gratitude. Is gratitude a feeling? Is gratitude merely the courtesy of saying “Thank you” to God before a meal?
How can I be sure that I am grateful in a way that is authentic and pleasing to God? Does the Bible demonstrate normative ways that gratitude is made manifest in our lives? I believe it does. One way gratitude overflows out of our hearts and manifests in our daily lives is by a joyful desire to share the gospel with people around us.
Who Then Is This?
Jesus had just calmed the storm with a word. His disciples fearfully exclaimed, “Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?” Indeed, who is this? As they run ashore, still trying to wrap their brains around what they just witnessed, Jesus demonstrates his glory once again. They are met immediately by a man possessed by thousands of demons.
Great detail is given about the power of the demons in this man. “He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him” (Mark 5:3-4).
Chains could not bind him and no man had the power to subdue him. Common human means were powerless and ineffective. Jesus is no common man. Look at how the man full of demons reacts to Jesus: “And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me” (Mark 5:6-7).
Who is this that the winds and waves obey his voice and who thousands of demons bow at his feet and beg him for mercy? The demons declare who he is. He is Son of the Most High God.
Tell Them How Much The Lord Has Done For You
Jesus gives the evil spirits permission to enter into a large herd of pigs. The people of the region find the man sitting with Jesus, set free from the power of demons, and in his right mind.
O how grateful he must have been for Jesus! The text tells us that while the demons possessed him, “Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones” (Mark 5:5). Then Jesus showed up and shattered their power. He rescued him and gave him a new life. The man was so changed that he begged Jesus that he might be one of his disciples.
Jesus told the man, “‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled” (Mark 5:19-20). *Notice how “the Lord” and “Jesus” are synonymous in these verses.
Jesus had supernaturally set him free and poured supernatural grace into his heart. The result of such grace and mercy is overflowing gratitude and love for Jesus. The overflow of this gratitude manifests in the joyful desire to proclaim Jesus to everyone.
Evangelism Is A True Measure Of Gratitude
Our gratitude will be proportionate with our evangelism, that is, our desire and efforts to share Jesus with the people around us. Little desire and effort to tell others about him and what he has done for us reveals very little gratitude. Our gratitude is cheap and superficial if it is not evidenced by a heart to proclaim Jesus.
Imagine you have a friend that rarely speaks about his wife. If he does speak he only speaks in matter of fact ways; such as, “My wife has 3 sisters” or “my wife is from Texas.” Then you finally meet his wife and you are blown away by her kindness, her sense of humor, her grace, her beauty, and her love for your friend. You would say to yourself, “He didn’t tell us how great she is! Isn’t he grateful that he has such an amazing wife?”
If a great wife is grounds for gratitude and proclamation, how much more an infinitely great Savior who rescues and redeems our life from the tombs?
How thankful are you this Thanksgiving? Is it evident by your readiness to share the gospel with the people around you? If so, praise Jesus for his grace. Ask him to fill your heart with more gratitude and your lips with more proclamation. If not, ask Jesus to open your eyes to all he has done for you and to give you overflowing gratitude that manifests in evangelism.