James Bardsley: Gratitude to God

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This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 1 John 3:16-17

“What are then the motives for giving, condensed into a few words? Gratitude to God. We are sinners saved by God’s mercy. “Ye are not your own,” says the Apostle, “ye are bought with a price;” and the price with which we are redeemed is, “not corruptible, things, such as silver and gold, but the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish.” “Greater love,” says our Lord, “hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He could not perform a greater act of kindness, or lay a person under greater obligation…

If, then, we are thus purchased with a price, and are not our own, it is that we may glorify Him in our bodies and in our souls which are His. The love of Christ is to constrain us, not to live to ourselves, but unto Him who died for us and is risen again. The love of Christ is thus, my brethren, to constrain us…

Not only, my brethren, do we find multitudes in the present day not animated by the Spirit to lay down their lives for their brethren, but they will not lay down their estates for them, nay, they will not lay down the superfluities of their estates for them. We find multitudes in the present day, who profess and call themselves Christians, who spend upon their own personal paltry gratification money without stint; but ask them even for a trifle for God’s cause, and though they know that it is God’s cause, how ingenious they are in finding reasons why they cannot subscribe to this thing presented before them.”

James Bardsley in his sermon “The Motives of Giving” preached in St. Ann’s Church, Manchester on 13 March 1862 in Money, And It’s Responsibilities: A Course of Sermons on Giving issued by a committee of churchmen (Manchester: Hale and Roworth, 1862) 13-14.

The situation in England a century and a half ago sounds strikingly similar to where we find ourselves today. People profess to be Christians but they will not lay down their estates or superfluities for the sake of Christ, but instead “spend upon their own personal paltry gratification money without stint.”

Where do you fit in the picture?

When looking for kindness in this sermon, I noticed that it has been shown to us in Christ, but many do not extend it to others. Bardsley calls people to have that motive of gratitude to God for the kindness received out of love and to extend it likewise to others. Without strong motivation, people don’t pursue obedience.

So how do we grow gratitude to God?

That’s far less complicated! Pause to give thanks. Consider the things Christ has done for you. This may require you to turn of the television or other technology, to find a quiet place, and perhaps get a pen and paper. Make a list. Then see how He’s resourced you to be generous. Then ask yourself another question.

Will I someday have to give an account for my stewardship?

Since you will, go one step further. Determine what must change in your life to live differently. Chart a course. Take steps in the right direction, one at a time. You won’t figure it out until you live it out that this path will lead to life and position you for rich generosity. It starts with gratitude to God in your heart.

Nurture gratitude to God today (and every day) and see what happens.

Today Sophie and I are driving from Santee, California to Richfield, Utah, en route home. On the way I plan to play the Alphabet game. We will alternate turns through the alphabet and share things for which we are thankful. It will help pass the time and knit our hearts together in gratitude to God. Try it sometime.