How You Can Show Gratitude for What Jesus Did
ACTIONS speak a louder “Thank you” than mere words. Therefore, if you appreciate what Jesus did for you, you will want to exercise faith in him as your Savior. In fact, it is only by doing so that you can hope to benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice. Remember the expression “exercising faith,” found at John 3:16? Well, that implies more than believing and giving mental assent to the fact that he died for you. It involves acting upon that belief too.
Heed the instructions Peter gave to his Jewish listeners shortly after Pentecost 33 C.E.: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) That indicates action of two sorts. On the one hand, we sincerely oppose the sinful tendencies of our minds and bodies. On the other hand, we plead with God for forgiveness of our sins on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice.—1 John 2:1, 2.
Imitate Jesus’ Example
Colin, who has been a baptized Christian for 24 years, was asked why he is grateful for what Jesus did. He replied: “I appreciate his ransom sacrifice, but it is his example that helps me the most. His life serves as a pattern for me to imitate.”
If we are truly grateful, would we not want to follow Jesus’ example of humility, subjection, and self-sacrificing love? If your lips respond, “Yes!” what do your attitude and actions answer? For instance, how would most people respond when faced with an assignment that will promote true worship but calls for humility and sacrifice on their part, such as scrubbing floors in a place used for Christian meetings? How would you react? Would you, out of appreciation for Jesus and his heavenly Father, be willing to accept an assignment that many would consider beneath them and too uncomfortable? Jesus humbled himself in performing a comparable service to others.—John 13:2-17; Philippians 2:7, 8.
Let us consider another example. Misunderstandings between people often lead to harsh words and hurt feelings. What would most do if they were in a room full of people that included someone who had deeply offended them? What would you do? Out of gratitude for Jesus and Jehovah, would you willingly take the first step to reconcile your differences with the offending party, doing so with a quiet and mild spirit? Jesus and his heavenly Father did so with sinful mankind.—Romans 5:6-10; 1 John 4:9-11.
In addition to giving up his heavenly glory to become a man and then laying down his earthly life as mankind’s Redeemer, Jesus did humankind an incalculable service by his teaching. No other human so powerfully affected mankind for good as did Jesus Christ. He was a teacher without equal. He taught men regarding God’s name, personality, purposes, and will for human creatures.—John 7:45, 46.
Among the outstanding examples of his teaching is the Sermon on the Mount. In it Jesus stated what has become known as the golden rule: “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you.” (Matthew 7:12, The New English Bible) He also showed what the two greatest commandments of the Law were: ‘To love Jehovah God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:29-31) Not to be overlooked are his prophecies, the fulfillment of which so clearly shows where we are on God’s timetable.—Matthew, chapters 24 and 25.
Jesus backed up his teaching by his course of action, giving us the ideal, the perfect, example to follow. He began his career by presenting himself entirely to do his Father’s will and then symbolizing that by being baptized in water. God sent him to earth, primarily to bear witness to the truth. Just before Jesus died, he could say to his Father: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do,” and “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.”—John 17:4, 6.
Jesus intended for others to imitate his example. This is apparent from his own words and those of others. “Come after me,” and, “Come be my follower,” said Jesus at Matthew 4:19 and Mt 19:21. “Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely,” and, “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ,” wrote the apostles Peter and Paul.—1 Peter 2:21; 1 Corinthians 11:1.
To show gratitude for what Jesus Christ did for you as the Great Teacher and Exemplar, continue to familiarize yourself with his teachings. This requires regular study of God’s Word, especially the Christian Greek Scriptures, in which Jesus’ teachings are found. Since you will need help to understand and appreciate what you read, it would be wise to avail yourself of printed Bible study helps available for that very purpose.* Also, make a conscientious effort to apply what you learn in your everyday life. Yes, proper action is required. Jesus observed: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”—Matthew 7:21; 4:17; Luke 4:17-21.
Put Worship of Jehovah First
Today more than 1,056,000,000 people claim to be Christian. But what little gratitude most of them show for what Jesus did for them! Apparently, many feel that they are doing quite well if they go to church twice a year, on Christendom’s major holidays. Or others will say, ‘I love God because I believe in the Ten Commandments.’ But how many obey them? That perfect law code, once binding upon the ancient nation of Israel, gave priority to the proper worship of Jehovah God, specifically by its first four commandments.—Exodus 20:1-11.
How many professed Christians are really following Jesus’ example by applying the principles of the Ten Commandments in their daily life? Are they giving God their “exclusive devotion,” as called for in the second commandment? Like Jesus, are they making manifest God’s name in a proper way, which was the emphasis of the third commandment? True Christians not only are virtuous but also put the worship of Jehovah foremost in their lives.—Matthew 6:33.
Many such Christians are aware that assembling together is a part of God’s worship. But have you ever considered regular attendance at Christian meetings to be a sign of gratefulness? The apostle Paul did. He reasons that way in the 10th chapter of his letter to the Hebrews. He also reveals the danger of indifference to Christian meetings. Such an attitude could cause a Christian to become discouraged and inactive in good deeds of faith. For some others, their appreciation for God’s way of salvation through Christ could be shrinking. If this is true and their dwindling faith is not checked, it may lead to willful sin, even apostasy. This would amount to treating God’s gift as something of “ordinary value,” or as something common, an insult to both Jehovah and Jesus.—Hebrews 10:23-31.
Note Paul’s warning concerning those who go beyond slighting meetings to actual rejection of God’s gift for salvation. “Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three. Of how much more severe a punishment, do you think, will the man be counted worthy who has trampled upon the Son of God and who has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt?”—Hebrews 10:28, 29.
The Law was God’s gift through Moses. So Paul reminds his readers that if unrepentant violators of that divine Law received capital punishment, death, how much more deserving of punishment are those who contemptuously neglect God’s greater gift through Jesus Christ, the Greater Moses. Those who desecrate the Son of God as their Savior and despise his sacrifice are in line for “the second death”—a severe punishment with no hope of a resurrection.—Revelation 21:8; Deuteronomy 13:6-10; 17:2-7.
Paul is also showing what an ingrate the willful sinner or apostate has become. Such a man has committed the ultimate insult in three ways. First, he “has trampled upon the Son of God.” Either he now views Jesus as his enemy, for ancient conquerors trod on the necks of their conquered foes, or he looks upon Jesus with disdain, because men tread on what they despise. (Compare Matthew 7:6.) Second, he “has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.” He scorns the means (Christ’s blood) by which he was declared clean. He counts that blood, validating the new covenant, as of no more worth than the blood of imperfect men, as something not sacred. Third, he “has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt.” He has blasphemed God’s active force, willfully opposing Jehovah’s influence, saying it has no value and therefore is of no use to him.—Ephesians 4:30.
Such blatant acts of contempt can be avoided if we always prize God’s gift for salvation. Christian meetings are a way by which we can maintain proper esteem. Since Jehovah and Jesus are present invisibly at these gatherings, grateful Christians will not snub them, as the apostates do, but rather do all they reasonably can to attend regularly.—Compare Malachi 3:16; Matthew 18:20.
Therefore, be grateful for what Jesus has done for you. Exercise genuine faith in his ransom sacrifice. Imitate his example in your dealings with others. Put first in your life the worship of his Father, Jehovah God. In this way you can say: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable free gift” of undeserved kindness through Jesus.—2 Corinthians 9:15.
We recommend, for example, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Picture on page 6]
Ways that you can show gratitude for Jesus