Each year November brings us to our stewardship emphasis time when each of us has an opportunity to express our gratitude for God’s blessings in our lives and the life of our church. With EPC’s 55th anniversary just around the corner, we certainly have many blessings for which to be thankful. Gratitude is more than just a response to our many blessings; it is a mindset, a lifestyle, an attitude.
Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan preacher, philosopher, and theologian who was at one time president of Princeton University, said there are two kinds of gratitude. One is “natural gratitude,” the gratitude we feel for the beauty of the earth, for the freedoms we enjoy, for the blessings of friends and family, for all good gifts we have received. But there is also a second kind of gratitude. Edwards calls this “gracious gratitude.” Gracious gratitude is thankfulness for God’s grace and love and mercy, regardless of what our circumstances may be.
As we consider stewardship together this fall, I encourage you to think about your giving not only in terms of the material and physical blessings we have received, but also in terms of how blessed we are to know God’s grace and mercy and unfailing love. John Calvin wrote that “thankfulness is the chief exercise of godliness.” My prayer is that we may all become more and more filled with “gracious gratitude” that rejoices in abundant blessings and overflows in godly generosity.