The Wonder of Gratitude for Grace



Excerpted from an article in the September/October edition of Grace in Focus

We All Are Grateful When People Do Us Favors

Of course, it is common enough to appreciate the small favors people do for us. Social life is filled with little kindnesses that differentiate friendship from mere civility. But such courtesies are rarely selfless. Many gifts are ultimately meant to be repaid. We give expecting to receive in return. And as Jacques Derrida has said, these are not gifts so much as debts, leading to an endless circle of giving and receiving tinged by the resentment of being obliged to give in return.

But when a gift is so extravagant that it defies repayment, and when it is made, not to put us in debt, but for our own good, then our appreciation ripens to gratitude. And in that moment of gratefulness, we experience a sense of transcendence that lifts us beyond the narrowly selfish concerns of our life, helping us take a wider view of its purpose, and we give thanks. For gratitude responds to goodness, and goodness speaks of spiritual realities unaccounted for by material existence. Gratitude gives us a taste of divine things.

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