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Thank You Is Not Enough

On days like today (Veterans Day, in the US), I like to put things in to my mind to give me perspective. I think of the ending scene of Saving private Ryan, where (and if you haven’t seen it by now, it’s been out for 24 years, so I’m not sorry), James Ryan is standing next to the grave of Captain Miller saying he hoped that he’d earned what the Captain and his men sacrificed for him. I know it’s a movie, but I also know many veterans who wonder the same. They gave up their youth to serve an often-ungrateful nation. The suicide rate among veterans is astronomical. Many veterans have seen and done things so that we could live in relative peace and safety. Have we earned it? So, for me, on days like today, I say “Thank you is not enough.” I want to live my life in such a way where I have earned such a sacrifice.

Thinking of another who gave up for us, I say the same. Jesus gave up heaven for us. He was born into a manger (and those who’ve worked around barns and farms know that’s far from a palace). He lived perfectly, and worked for a living (probably as a stone carpenter). He was rejected in His home town, rejected and mocked by his brothers, rejected by the elders of Israel, and then by the nation as a whole, while being abandoned by his closest companions, and betrayed by one of them. He was lied about, tortured, mocked again, beaten, and nailed to a cross. He rose again from a tomb, of his own volition, and all so that we could have an opportunity at eternity with Him. Thank you is not enough. I want to live my life in such a way that honors such a sacrifice.

Philippians 1

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

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