“Give thanks in all circumstances”

  • Mark your calendars. It will be time to give thanks on Thursday of this week.  What is wrong with that counsel?  Not the part of about Thursday being a time to give thanks.  In fact, that day probably appears on your calendar as Thanksgiving Day – a day set aside for that very purpose.  Most of us, if not all in this assembly will do just that.  But the part that we might find false, is the implication or assumption that that is the only time we need to give thanks.  In fact, it is not. We offered our thanksgiving to God several times this morning.

So when should we give thanks to God?  1 Thess 5:18 –  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  – ESV Do you do this?  How is this possible?   Before we consider that question, I want to ask another one.  How important is this?  In the whole scheme of our salvation and faith, how crucial is it that we say thank you?  What are the spiritual causes and consequences of ingratitude?

 

  1. The Value of Giving Thanks
  2. How many of you parents want your kids to be grateful people? We work to that end, by reminding them, on certain occasions of receiving a gift, – “what do you say?”  the words we are looking for – “thank you”.  Why do we do this?  First, because we recognize that being thankful is a very important element of the emotional stability and social development of a child (and later as an adult). It is a matter of social courtesy to say thank you. We expect it of each other.
  3. But to the Christian it is more than a social courtesy. Thankfulness is connected intrinsically to our perception and worship of God. An unthankful heart is the evidence of rebellion and false worship. Consider  Rom 1:18-25: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
  4. Creation is itself a lesson book on God. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech and night unto night declares knowledge” (Psalm 19:1–2). It teaches, to those who do not seek to suppress the truth, that God exists and that we are the beneficiaries of His gifts. The design and beauty of what we call nature, demands the existence of a powerful Designer. I am not in charge.  If I am His creature, and He is the source of all things, then I owe Him everything, all the time. Creation demands that I respond to the knowledge it is declaring. It is the natural response of the recipient to give back to the one who is the giver.
  5. But what can I give to my Maker? I cannot enrich or add to God.
  • Job 41:11Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.
  • I am and always will be the recipient, not the giver. “He is not served by human hands as though he needed anything” (Acts 17:25). What then does my Creator expect? Paul tells the Athenians later in Acts 17 that God expects every person to repent. God certainly expects us to obey His commands (all of them).  But Paul’s words in Romans 1 present a more basic and fundamental response to God and His creation.
  1. In the words of Romans 1, those who failed to learn in the classroom of creation were condemned because they “did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” (1:21) It seems that the Creator expected two responses of His creatures: 1) Glorify Him 2) Thank Him.
  2. The word for glorifyin Romans 1 (what they did not do) is doxazo (dox-ad’-zo); it means to esteem; honor or magnify. Theidolaters did not magnify (glorify) God.
    • There are two types of magnification. You can magnify something and make it appear bigger, even though it is actually small – such as with a microscope or magnifying glass. Or magnification can mean to take something that appears small and make it appear as great as it realty is – such as looking at the immense universe through a telescope.
    • We are called to make God’s intrinsic greatness look as big as it really is. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  1. Nor were thankful – They viewed the awesome creation, but were blind to the awesome God who made it. Instead they honored the creation, and the creatures (themselves). Magnified the gifts, not the Giver.Thus ingratitude is inherent to the carnal, sinful mind of the idolater.

 

  1. The Glory of Giving Thanks – Return to our previous question – What does God expect? What will glorify (magnify) Him? What must the human telescope do in order to cause God to appear as great as he really is?   Consider David’s words in  Psalm 69:30-31 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull, Which has horns and hooves. David tells us that thanksgiving (gratitude) magnifies God.
  • Note: Giving thanks to God is not all that one is called upon to do to glorify God.  It is not all that God expects. God is magnified when we obey His commands, suffer for righteousness, have compassion on others and help them. We are going to notice in a future lesson from Phil. 4 that Godis glorified when we give. But we should not overlook this connection between giving thanks and glorifying God.
  1. David says in Psalm 69 that singing a song and thanking God is more pleasing to Him than an ox or bull (animal sacrifice).  God commanded animal sacrifices. Why does David say in this context that the sacrifice would be less pleasing?
  2. Consider this connection: The Greek word used in 1 Thess. 5:18 (and many other scriptures) that is rendered give thanks is eucharisteo (yoo-khar-is-teh’-o) – to be grateful, to express gratitude (towards).  It contains the root word charis (khar -ece)  which is the common word for grace. It refers to an undeserving gift. (so to offer grace is used to refer to praying a prayer of thanksgiving).  Thanksgiving is rooted in the recognition of an undeserved gift.  The one who gives thanks knows he is the recipient and the one to whom he is giving thanks is the giver.  Thus thanksgiving is based on humble realization of one’s inherent position before God as the receiver of a gift.
  3. Although God commanded sacrifice, the worshipper can be deceived. As he takes the animal from his flock or herd, he might be tempted to think that he was the giver and God was the recipient, thus reversing the true spiritual meaning of the act. It does not magnify God for me to magnify my own efforts. So any act of worship is valueless if it is not motivated and rooted in thanksgiving.
  4. but when one truly gives thanks from the heart, the worshipper remains cognizant that he is the recipient (that is why he is saying thank you), and God is the giver.
  5. Consider the 50th Psalm – In v. 9 God says… I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds.10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  11  I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. 12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,  for the world and its fullness are mine.  So what does God want them to bring?  V. 14-Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,  and perform your vows to the Most High  (ESV)  Being thankful, and expressing thankfulness is the validation of every other offering we make to God.

III.  Our Struggle to Say Thank You.  Why is this hard for us?  If the gifts of God are so visible and God is so good to us, why do we even need to be told to say thank you.  For the same reason that you need to tell you children to do it.  Because we spend our time and energy thinking about ourselves. Pride is the enemy of gratitude. One writer wrote, “proud people don’t say thank you.”  That explains a lot.

  1. A. We strive against the message of creation – God is the giver of all things. We claim to be wise, but become fools when we exchange the truth of God for a lie.  ( 1:22, 25)
  2. We strive against the message of redemption – We are the recipients of an undeserved gift.We do not need lessons on Etiquette or politeness. We need to learn and meditate on the gifts of God – redemption, adoption, forgiveness, reconciliation, righteousness, inheritance. We need to see ourselves as we truly are – forgiven and redeemed sinners, with nothing to bring to God except a thankful heart.

Conclusion:  Consider an inexplicable event in Luke 17 –   Ten lepers were healed by Jesus. Only one returned to say thank you. Leprosy was a horrible disease. Though modern medicine has nearly eradicated it over most of the world today, there was a time when it was epidemic and catastrophic among men. There was no cure. You simply waited in horrible pain, ostracization, and isolation to die. In N.T. times it was considered worse than death (in fact those who contacted it were considered as though they were already dead, and therefore ceremonially unclean under the law of Moses).  The question that seems appropriate is, how could they not be thankful? But we need to also ask why the one man did return?  What does it tell us about him?

  • Notice how Luke describes this man’s expression of thanksgiving. Luke 17:15-19And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” 
    • He came back because he recognized he was the recipient of an undeserved gift.He saw he was healed. He could not keep it to himself, and the first place to voice his emotions was to the One who had healed him.
    • His words of thanksgiving magnified God – Luke says it and Jesus Himself says it. This more than a common courtesy.  It was the fulfillment of the purpose this man’s life.
    • His thanksgiving was a fruit of his faith (v. 19) The others had a measure of faith when they cried out for help. But Jesus seems to indicate that this man’s faith made him “well” in a more complete way than those who failed to return.
  • Grace is the seed from which a thankful heart grows.The thanklessness is inconsistent with heart that has been the recipient of God’s grace. So it is inconsistent in your life was well.
  • Col 1:11-14 “and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  –
  • Col 2:6-7So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
  • Col 3:15-17Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

As a Christian, I am thankful for the grace of God. He healed me from a deadly disease. If he has healed you, do not neglect to thank Him through worship. If you are not a Christian, you need the grace of God.

  • Mark 16:16–  16He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. NKJV