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For the week of November 20, 2023 Thanking and Praising Without Competing

We live in a competitive environment. The message the world sends that’s hard to ignore is that we need to do things better and faster, and finish them sooner, than others. There’s nothing wrong with being productive, as long as we have the right motivation. We accomplish more being motivated by a thankful heart than we ever could by any carrot-and-stick external enticement.

Our motives matter. We can feel pressured to perform when we compare ourselves to others and try to compete with them. There are plenty of people who commend themselves. However, Paul warned the believers at Corinth that it wasn’t wise to measure or compare themselves with themselves.

What we expose ourselves to influences how we think, and how we think determines how we feel. This is part of the anatomy of life, and it applies to our motives. Exposing ourselves to the Word of grace moves us into thankfulness for all God has done for us. There’s great power in choosing to give thanks always, in Jesus’ name; God’s will is for us to give thanks in the midst of everything we go through.           

It’s important to make a distinction here; we don’t give thanks for the bad things, but in the midst of them. Specifically, we can be grateful for God’s faithfulness in delivering us from the messes we create for ourselves, for His undying love for us, and for His mercy in sparing us from what we deserve when we fall short. We can praise the Lord and give thanks to Him because He’s good and His mercy endures forever. We can’t say that about anyone else in our lives.

Pushing ourselves too hard to accomplish a task through self-effort can lead to frustration and burnout. Instead of going down that path, we can base our motives on the success God has already made available to us. Meditating on this generates a grateful heart in us and makes us more successful than we could ever be on our own.

Prayer:

Lord, our environment can confuse our priorities until we compare everything we do with some else, rather than focusing on what the Lord directed us to do. Thank you for showing us how a thankful heart gives us the ability to get the job done. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 10:12

Ephesians 5:20

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Psalm 106:1

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