What Is Gratis in Your Life?
Gratis: given or done for free
Don’t you love when you get something for free? You feel like you got such a good deal. You received a benefit, but did not have to pay for it. In Norwegian and a number of other languages, the word gratis is actually used for the word free. You did not pay for it. It was gratis.
Have you thought about all the things that you were given gratis just today?
- Your body’s involuntary functions (autonomic nervous system) are working gratis – your brain is firing signals, your heart is beating, your organs are filtering, your digestive system is moving! Oh, those who have dysfunction in these areas will tell you to be so thankful!
- Your body’s voluntary functions (somatic nervous system) are working gratis – your fingers and eyes are moving without great effort, and your amazing lungs are breathing involuntarily until you consciously take over their function. The aged and disabled will tell us to be so very thankful!
- The air you are breathing in – extremely unusual in the universe – is gratis.
- Reading the Bible in your own language is gratis to you, though others paid dearly so that you could. Unreached people groups today weep when they first see God’s words in their own heart language!
- You have been offered the gift of forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation by your Creator – gratis.
Gratis, Grateful, Gratitude
It is easy to see how these three words are related. From the Latin root word, “gratia,” meaning grace or kindness, come the ideas of “received freely as a gift” (gratis), and “full of grace received and thankful” (grateful), and “returning good will, expressing pleasure, thankfulness” (gratitude). Grace, gift, free, and thankfulness are all related ideas.
We have been given so much every moment of every day, and that strongly calls for an appropriate response from us just as frequently.
“If I did not praise and bless Christ my Lord, I should deserve to have my tongue torn out by its roots from my mouth. If I did not bless and magnify his name, I should deserve that every stone I tread on in the streets should rise up to curse my ingratitude, for I am a drowned debtor to the mercy of God – over head and ears. To infinite love and boundless compassion I am a debtor. Are you not the same? Then I charge you by the love of Christ, awake, awake your hearts now to magnify his glorious name.” (C. H. Spurgeon)
The way Spurgeon described ingratitude is striking. He viewed it quite seriously. He sternly warned himself that he deserved punishment if he did not express his gratitude to the Lord.
I don’t know that we in the 21st century look at ingratitude with such seriousness. Maybe we should. Instead, our focus is often on what is missing, what lacks perfect appearance or function, what we do not like in our lives … and we highlight the shortcomings by complaining.
Although humans are programmed as problem-solvers and thus prone to focus on what yet needs fixing, wisdom reminds us to frequently step back and remember that this fallen world will never be perfect, that we have it far better than we should, and that we have received so much from the Creator and others (1 Corinthians 4:7).
My passion in writing this blog is to inspire you to choose to think thanks. Yes, it requires a choice. You must choose what you think about. The ruts in your brain may run you automatically into the depths of ingratitude, or may take you simply to the next thing in your day. BUT you can start right now, with God’s grace, to fill in that negative rut and – can I actually say it? – forge a new rut of gratefulness! I am not sure I have ever met a person in such a rut!
The harvest that comes from choosing to plant seeds of thankfulness is beautiful indeed. In Namaqualand, South Africa, there is a beautiful burst of glorious flowers that come gratis with the first rains that end the dry season. An otherwise parched desert produces this kaleidoscopic carpet. What a great metaphor for a dry heart, full of ingratitude, experiencing the spring rains of God’s grace resulting in a variegated burst of th(i)nkfulness.
What free gifts of grace have you enjoyed today?