Yesterday, I wrote about God's warning against spiritual envy from Jude 12–13. While that passage hit me hard, it felt like a walk in the park compared to what I read next.
Jude 14–15 reads,
"Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
At first glance this sounds like a battle between God and the culture to me. Maybe Hollywood, pop music, and tabloid magazines are about to get their due. After all, they must be who Jude is describing as committing so many ungodly deeds, right?
"These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires . . ." (v. 16)
Cue record scratch sound effect.
The sinners God's judging here are:
In other words, they're complainers. They are being judged because of their lack of gratitude, not because of some sin we would perceive to be more grievous or devastating.
This shouldn't surprise me, I guess. God commands gratitude often in His Word:
"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" (1 Chron. 16:34)
"Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe." (Heb. 12:28)
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess. 5:18)
I've got to confess that it's easy for me to gloss over these verses. I know I should be thankful, but if I'm not it seems like no harm, no foul.
Perhaps that's why Jude takes such a dramatically different approach to the issue. Instead of simply reminding us to be thankful in warm and fuzzy terms he describes the judgment due to those who do not thank God for all He has done.
True gratitude, the really, really good stuff that fills our hearts to overflowing and delights our giving God isn't a result of rule following but of a constant reminder of the beauty of the gospel.
Jude may have been referring to the wilderness generation here, or he may have some other group in mind as he describes the coming judgment, but I know he could have just as easily been talking about me.
Gratitude is not something I am good at, despite the fact that God is so deserving. Discontentment is my default. Complaining is sadly common practice for me. The beauty of God's Word is that it helps us recalibrate when we've gotten off track. In this case, the clear image of God judging those who chronically complain and habitually choose discontentment has the power to remind us to do things differently.
Now, before you add the words "show gratitude" to your to-do list for tomorrow, let me give a little disclaimer. For achievement-driven, to-do-list-loving, Christian women like me, gratitude can so easily become something that feels like a rule: We must give thanks because God commands us to.
That's true. It is a commandment, but true gratitude, the really, really good stuff that fills our hearts to overflowing and delights our giving God isn't a result of rule following but of a constant reminder of the beauty of the gospel. If we are going to put anything on our to-do lists, it should be to remember all that God has done for us, that we never earned or deserved.
Let's start right now.
What can you thank God for? Will you choose contentment by focusing on all He has done?