My photo: cruising the canals of Amsterdam
Are you in the habit of saying “thanks”? Even if you say yes, do you take time to think before you thank. Many of us are so used to saying mere words or expressions that our mouths move before our minds are engaged! Saying thanks at the dinner table or in response to the gift, action, help or assistance of a friend or stranger can be merely automatic for us. Saying thanks to God before eating a meal can be merely ritualistic without a relationship. In such instances, expressing thanks becomes a shallow visceral reaction without lasting benefit to the speaker or the receiver.
So, what is thankfulness all about? One root of the word thank is the word think. To thank is to think! The Bible says to followers of Jesus “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”[i]. It means that we should think of God as the initiator of all blessings, benefits, and beauty in creation – both animate and inanimate. To thank God is to realize the amazing gift of God’s grace and love that reaches down to us through Jesus. You may have already acknowledged and confessed your sin, turned from it and received Jesus into your heart and life. If so, you now have this dynamic daily reality that you are not only an adopted child of God but an empowered joyful ambassador for Him now and for eternity!
Viewing all of life through the lens of thankfulness or gratitude means that you acknowledge that God exists and that He will reward you as you diligently seek Him.[ii] Think of your weaknesses, trials, struggles, or challenges as opportunities to trust God for your every need. You can then accomplish His purposes and meet the needs of others through Jesus who lives in you.[iii]
When Jesus came from heaven to live among us as one fully divine and fully human, He trusted completely in God the Father just as He calls us to trust in Him. Before His miracles of feeding thousands with bread and fish and the raising of Lazarus from the dead, Jesus first gave thanks to God in heaven.[iv] As Jesus depended on God the Father, so depend on Jesus as you start each day. A gratitude attitude must always precede the miracles of spiritual birth, of godly character, and transformative influence on others around you.
So, stop to think of how good God has been to you before you eat with your family and others around a meal. Pause to think how God has blessed you with a job, loved ones, and countless other benefits both big and small.
There was an intense, self-centred, man who lived about 2,000 years ago. He dedicated his life to destroying Christians and the early church but never stopped to think that he might be on the wrong path. Then, he met Jesus. Proud selfish Saul dramatically became gracious humble Paul whose life then exploded into an overflow of gratitude to the God who called, saved, and transformed him.[v] When Paul thought of others who followed Jesus, he constantly gave thanks to God![vi]
In urging followers of Jesus to meet to worship God and to encourage one another, he said “sing… to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks to him through God the Father.”[vii] The richest, most influential, and fruitful person is the one whose mind and life overflows with gratitude to God and toward others. So, think and be thankful!
[i] I Thessalonians 5:18(NIV)
[ii] Hebrews 11:6
[iii] 2 Corinthians 1:4
[iv] John 6:11 and John 11:41
[v] Ephesians 1:3-7
[vi] Philippians 1:3
[vii] Colossians 3:17 (NLT)