Colossians 2: 6-7
What do the following statements have in common?
Our pastor, who was also our pre-marital counselor, taught my wife and me to say the phrase, "I choose to love you because you are a person of value and worth."
Abraham Lincoln has been (incorrectly) quoted as saying, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." (Whoever said it, it's still a good line).
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wrote, "The person who has chosen to make gratitude his or her mind-set and lifestyle can view anything - anything! - through the eyes of thankfulness."
OK, so, I gave the answer away in the title! In each case - of love, attitude and gratitude - the person makes a choice. Intentionality is extremely powerful.
Each November, with Thanksgiving around the corner, I see people posting reasons that they are thankful. I endorse these posts. These writers are intentionally choosing to see and express the world differently, seeking during a season of thanksgiving what is typically overlooked the rest of the year.
Paul lets us know in Colossians 2: 6-7 that thankfulness is a key foundational choice in our following of Christ, and certainly not just an annual observance:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Like other noble qualities, thankfulness may not come naturally. We may have to look for it harder in times of dryness or struggle, and that is a choice. Wolgemuth observes the power of choice and intentionality in her Christian living book, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy.
I've learned that if I'm not vigilant about rejecting ingratitude and choosing gratitude, I all too easy get sucked into the undertow of life in a fallen world. I start focusing on what I don't have that I want, or what I have that I don't want. My life starts to feel hard, wearisome, and overwhelming...But in those moments when I find myself gasping for air, feeling that I'm going under, I've discovered that gratitude is a life preserver.
As in Wolgemuth's example involving gratitude, the power of choice and intentionality is potentially a life preserver, a life changer, a life molder. This power is a consistent theme in my video series, "The Legacy Tree: A Christian Model for a Life of Significance," found on CecilTaylorMinistries.com. If we are to live significantly for God's kingdom, then we must be intentional; we must choose to pursue significant lives. It is easy to drift through our lives without a spiritual plan, and then wake up one day and wonder why we didn't impact the world more. We can avoid focusing on the importance of living in and with Christ each day, and finally realize, as Wolgemuth expresses, that we have made life harder on ourselves because we lacked intentionality.
Choice is an essential part of living a 7-day practical faith. Let us use this season of thanksgiving to scrutinize ourselves again and determine how to choose to live with love, joy and gratitude, experiencing those benefits daily and letting them overflow to others.
Cecil Taylor Ministries offers video series, books and study guides to help Christian individuals, small groups and churches learn to live a 7-day practical faith. Along with "The Legacy Tree," check out our range of offerings at https://www.ceciltaylorministries.com/lessons.