Mamas are very persuasive people. When you were a kid there were things that, if you didn’t do them, mama would make you wish you had done them.
For example, if mama told you to say “thanks” to someone who did something for you and you didn’t do it, she might give you a swat behind the head.
Maybe your mama wasn’t quite so violent, but she still had ways … and those ways weren’t pleasant.
Makes you wonder how such sweet ladies can be so … um … well, you know.
The result was that a lot of people grew up saying, “Thanks,” for things but they weren’t really grateful. They always felt as if there was an invisible hand poised behind their head, ready to smack them.
Last week we learned that a lack of thankfulness towards God opens the door to all kinds of sin (Rom. 1: 21). Other than avoiding that, why do we want to be thankful?
–If you say, “Thanks” the person might do it again.
–It might give people a good opinion of you.
–You may be a stickler for doing things right so you say a perfunctory, “Thanks old chap.” (I put that in for my British readers)
–It might keep your mother from swatting your head.
None of those get to the heart of the matter. The Bible paints many advantages of worship:
Obedience. God says to do it. The Lord Jesus showed the way. He was constantly giving thanks. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessa. 5:18, NIV)
Thanksgiving is powerful and brings all kinds of benefits into our life–peace for example.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6, 7 NIV)
According to one translation of Psalms 50:23, thanksgiving paves the way so that God’s answer can come to you. “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (NIV 1984)
Saying “thanks” is the password into his presence and intimacy.
“Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him.” (Ps. 100:4, The Message)
Saying thanks just to get something from God, smacks a bit of manipulation, though. Let me tell you what is maybe the most important reason for thanksgiving–it helps you see things as they really are.
My circumstances tell me that my world is spinning out of control but I begin to thank God for His faithfulness and suddenly I “see.” “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
When I was a young pastor our church went to two different nursing homes to sing and preach for the residents. I always had help–except once.
An elderly lady arranged the service at this nursing home. That particular Sunday she sat directly in front of where I stood, defenseless, facing the congregation with no piano player or other singers.
Now, I’m no Luciano Pavaratti but I can usually carry a tune. That Sunday though, this dear lady was cawing like an off-key crow and I couldn’t stay on tune. I shut the song service down and preached. At least they could sleep while I spoke. No sleeping through that attempt at singing, though
Saying “thanks” to God gets us in harmony with reality of His “music.” We become powerfully aware of what He did for us, of the fact that He loads us daily with blessings. We thank Him by faith for what He’s going to do.
You know what else happens? When we give thanks we’re practicing up for heaven. In the last Bible book, God gives us a glimpse of eternity and check out what they are doing:
“Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 7:12 NIV)
Next week: The Care and Feeding of a Thankful Heart
“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” Anonymous