Last night one of our colleagues was sharing a story of a very prominent man and his wife. This man and his wife were highly educated and strongly atheistic. They had one son together. When their son decided to trust in Christ, they were sorely disappointed. The last thing they wanted for him was to actually believe in God and live accordingly. Our co-worker tried to build a redemptive relationship with this man; they would have meals together. One thing that particularly irritated the man was when our friend would say “thank you.” He actually ridiculed and harassed him for always saying “thank you.” Since he found it so irritating, our colleague tried to refrain from saying that he was thankful when with him.
Thankfulness is showing that you humbly accept someone else’s help. A self-sufficient person doesn’t need anything from anyone. They are fine by themselves, and thus feel they never need to say thank you.
The Romans 1 Crowd
Currently, I am embarking on a personal study in the Book of Romans. This long letter is packed with so much truth; I am eagerly opening and unraveling the first chapter. Wow, it contains a very dark progression after verse 18. It describes people who knew God, but do not want to honor Him as God nor give thanks to Him.
These people continue to become futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts are darkened. They claim to be wise, but they become fools, moving further and further away from any sacrifice of thanksgiving to their Creator. Since they are without excuse, they will face a very harsh judgment.
The Psalm 50 Crowd
The Psalm 50 crowd is a bit more like you and me. They know about God, but they have gotten lost in empty religious routines, eyes half-open, trying to keep the rules. Righteousness is about a relationship, not rules and routines. But they forgot.
God reminds them that He doesn’t need anything; the sacrifices are for them, not for Him. A Supreme Being really doesn’t need dead animals. “Every beast of the forest is mine. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine” (Psalm 50:10-11). So, He strongly urges them to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving in verses 14-15 and 23.
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me (14-15)
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!” (23)
Interesting that God chooses the word sacrifice. Sacrifices in the Old Testament were offered on an altar. It was costly, took effort and purposeful choice. And God knows that giving thanks (externalizing credit and fame to someone other than self) doesn’t come naturally to us humans. It takes effort; it has to be a purposeful choice. It is a sacrifice to offer up thanksgiving, especially when it is directed to God.
Someone who has cut God out of their lives really can’t be bothered with giving the sacrifice of thanksgiving. They are self-sufficient and don’t owe anyone anything, at least that is what they often believe. Nothing could be further from the truth.
No Thanks to Ingratitude
In complete contrast to ingratitude, I welcome you to consider the mandate of Ephesians 5:20, “Give thanks in everything” and to join the Psalm 50 crowd in breaking free from routine into a living and thank-filled relationship with your Creator and Redeemer.
Don’t let your thanksgiving be an irritant to unbelievers, like we learned earlier, but do seek to give thanks always for all things, even if it is just to yourself under your breath. 🙂
The big bonus in our day is that you don’t need to keep a stone altar in your backpack. You can offer up the sacrifice of thanksgiving at the bathroom mirror, in the driver’s seat, at your work desk, at the gym, or walking in the park.
“I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.” Psalm 116:17