It is the long view that matters when setting a course. You cannot neglect short-term details, but it is the long term goal that sets the course and allows corrections and a final sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
“Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That simple phrase from a parable of Jesus sets my long term goal. To have my master come and say, “Well done.”
The master matters to me. God’s character really does completely change what that goal means and could mean for me as a direction in life. It changes my everyday reflections, prayers, and actions. I know that God’s will for human beings is love, justice, and peace.
Shaping my life to follow the Way of Jesus involves some pretty mundane decisions and some really important ones. I greet people I don’t know at the coffee shop, and I don’t watch some movies because I follow Jesus. I try to know the homeless as human beings and not merely a collection of maladies and presuppositions because I follow Jesus. I pray the daily office, gather with others for eucharist, and talk to God all day because I follow Jesus. I tithe because I follow Jesus.
I don’t think God will love me because I follow Jesus and do these things. This is a vital theological point. I do these things because God loves the world, and this is who our master is. If we are going to worship and claim God as our master, we follow Jesus and do these things.
One of these things is thanksgiving. We give thanks to the God who made us and the world, who loves us and the world. On a simple level, we have life and salvation, grace and forgiveness. Everything we have is from God.
“All things come from thee, O Lord; and of thine own have we given thee.” This offering prayer is based on David’s final prayer to God before the assembly of Israel (I Chronicles 29:14). It sums up beautifully all that we are saying about gratitude.
We give thanks in all things because all things come from God. This orientation shapes us away from the greed and self-orientation of our contemporary world. It puts us in right relationship to the God we serve in each other and the world.