The Gust Of Gratitude And The Third Use Of The Law -- By: John Tweeddale

Journal: Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal
Volume: RPTJ 01:1 (Fall 2014)
Article: The Gust Of Gratitude And The Third Use Of The Law
Author: John Tweeddale


The Gust Of Gratitude And The Third Use Of The Law

John Tweeddale

Adjunct Professor of Church History
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Obligatory Gratitude

Thank you. These two profound words never say enough. We often struggle to express our gratitude for the opportunities we cherish, the gifts we receive, and the ones we love. Part of the problem is that we typically view gratitude as merely an obligatory gesture.

As a boy, I remember how frustrated I became when my parents required that I write a “thank you” card to every person who gave me a gift. While I ultimately complied with their demand, my gestures of gratitude were far from sincere. Outwardly, I exclaimed to my aunt, for example, “Thank you for my Tonka truck.” Inwardly, however, the fumes of ingratitude would burn as I was instructed to write what seemed to me a dumb old card. My attitude towards my parents’ request revealed a spirit of thanklessness. Even worse, it exposed my true love. I cared more about my silly truck than I did about my sweet aunt. I loved the gift more than the giver.

Real gratitude is never satisfied with petty expressions of gratefulness. Thanksgiving occurs not when the box of the law is checked but when the requirement of the law fuels a relish of gratitude. Overtime, my parents’ insistence on writing thank you cards not only exposed my ungratefulness but also taught me the value of cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving. As a result, a strange thing occurred. I began to derive more pleasure in expressing my gratitude for the person who gave the gift than I found in the gift itself. The process of heeding my parents’ demand became a means that grew my affection for my aunt, and, as a result, strengthened my relationship with her.

As Christians, we must not settle for petty gestures of gratitude. It is not enough to place a “thank you” card on top of our justification and think that we have settled the demand of the law. The relish of gratitude is experienced when the requirements of the law drive us towards godliness, and as a result, into a sweeter fellowship with God. Through the gust of gratitude we savor the sweetness of God’s grace.

The purpose of this article is to consider the so-called “third use of the law.” In particular, we will examine how the law of God guides us in gratitude and, even more, how gratitude guides us in godliness.

What Is The Third Use Of The Law?

The law has three basic tasks. It serves as a mirror, a mandate, and a map. As a mirror, the law exposes our sin and drives us to Christ, who perfectly obeyed the law and bore its punishment (

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