Here in the US we have the privilege of celebrating Thanksgiving this week. There may be 5 billion things that we could be thankful for at any moment; and truthfully we are probably aware of less than 5. The Christian is to always be aware of and deeply affected by at least one: the gospel of Christ.
The Scriptures teach that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). This is a staggering fact. He, the unchanging, ever-perfect, always good God–gives gifts to imperfect, weak, needy people.
Why does he do it? Well, one could rightly say, it is because he has abundance and we are needy. This is true. God needs nothing and we need everything. However, his giving is more than a cold, mechanical, divine donation. God gives because God loves. He loves us. And, his giving is the overflow of his love in sharing himself and his creation with us.
Have you ever wondered why God is more glorified in our taking than in our giving (to him)? It is because love is magnified in the reception of a gift not in the repayment. Love delights in the giving.
The right response to such giving is gratitude or thanksgiving. We are to receive God’s varied gifts with thanksgiving. This is right. You might say, this his human. This is what we were created to do: thankfully receive and enjoy God’s gifts in a way that glorifies him.
So, are you a thankful person? Here are some questions to help diagnose the answer:
Are you prone to complaining? This is a discontentment with what God has given you in life. You are not ultimately grumbling against circumstances but against God.
Are you a bitter person? Do you find yourself resentful when you look back at your life and experiences? This fails to take into account why God has so ordered things in your life—he says that he does things for your good. If you are bitter then you disagree with this.
Are you prone to presumption? This is a failure to recognize God’s good gifts in your life. Like the 10 lepers who were cleansed in Luke 17, do you fail to see God’s blessings in your life and respond with thanksgiving to him? If you take his blessings for granted then you are ungrateful.
Are you anxious about the future? This betrays unbelief. It shows that you do not really trust God to handle the future. If you are anxious then you believe that God is either not in control, not good, or does not love you. Jesus says in Matthew 6 that this anxiety is the mark of unbelief; it is what the pagans do. It stems from a lack of gratitude in God.
Are you given to abusing gifts? Do you over do entertainment, hobbies, food, drink, rest, etc? Have you elevated gifts above the giver? This feeds the flesh and starves your soul. It is the inversion of God’s design. It is ingratitude. It is unbelief.
The gospel makes a thankful people by making us thankful. When we understand how great our sin and how glorious our redeemer is then we will be filled with gospel gratitude (cf Heidelberg Q 2).
I like what Alexander Mclaren said, “”Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.”
This is a money quote. Let me break it down: Make it your ambition to foster a buoyant (cheerful, optimistic), joyous sense of the crowded (full) kindness of God in your daily life.
What better time than Thanksgiving week to raise high the flag of the gospel and salute it with a thankful heart!?