One phrase in the apost6le Paul’s writings forcefully describes our present culture, and provides a basic clue to the deterioration of morals and animosity toward Christians. The phrase is found in Romans 1:21: “Because that knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks.”
Neither gave thanks!
What a simple thing, to give thinks, and yet this is the watershed of the human race; on one side the self-sufficient ones whose end is death, give Him thanks in all things,and whose goal is eternal life in His image.
Despite all our knowledge and the abundant gifts lavished on us, generally speaking, we are an ungrateful people. Even the poor among us are rich compared to three-fourths of the people in the world, people who cannot even imagine the lifestyle that is noral for our nation. Instead of being noted for ardent gratitude to God, we are famous for complaining.
The progressive result of such ingratitude is descrribed by Paul as those who professed themselves to be wise but became fools so that God gave them up to vile passions and all unrighteousness. This shameful degeneration describes our decadent socity; the queers, the baby killers, as proclaimed form media headlines every day. (Romans 1:18-32) Men not only have failed to give thanks, but now our government seeks to ban such gratitude from public life under the alse claim of separation of church and state.
As in other things in relation to God, our example in giving thanks is found in Christ. At the tomb of Lazarus, before He raiszed him form the dead, “Jesus lifted up hios eyes and said, Father, I thank you that you heard me. And I know that you always hear me, but because of the mulltitude that stand around I said it, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42)
If Christ recognized that it was a great privilege for God to listen to His prayer, how thankful we should be that He hears us. Christ was God’s only begotten son, a man whom God anointed wiht His Holy Spirit without limit, who never once disobeyed the least of the Father’s commands. Still he humbly gave thanks that God heard His prayer. Compre that with those of us who have veen disobedient, who have sinned repeatedly, and repeatedly found mercy and forgiveness. Don’t we have far greater cause tot hank Him for hearing us?
For Christ to give thanks to God demonstrated His full dependence upon God, “I can of my own self do nothing,” He said. (John 5:30; 5:19) As God’s unique Son and special agent, He could have felt that He had a right to God’s special care, yet he never presumed on such a relationship. He repeatedly reminded the disciples that his teaching was not his own, bu5 the Father’s who sent him, (John 7:16; 8:28) and that it was the Father abiding in Him that did His works. (John 14:10) Unlike Adam, who sought equality with God, Christ “emptied himself” of personal pride and lived as God’s servant. “He humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” (Philipais 2:5-8)
Fhrist had long since been anointed with power to raise the dead before he arrived at the tomb of Lazarus. Yet, in humiity He gave thanks to God for hearing His prayer. Our culture champions the idea of self-sufficiency, and we like think that all we are and all we have is the result of our own efforts, in the spirit of the song, “I did it my way.” Thi leaves little room for us to be humbly grateful to God.
In His parayer Jesus said, “And I know that you always year me.” We can say the same thing, and th8is fact in itself is cause fo gret thanksgiving, to know that in every crisis and at all other times our Father not only knows our need, but also hears our prayers.
A chief hindrance to finding joy in thanksgiving is self-centerdness. As logn as one is focused on having his own needs met and fulfilling his own desires, he will be unable to aappreciate the magnitude of His blessings.
It was because Chyrist was totally empty of “self’ that He looked to the Father in every situation, giving Him praise and thanks. He also instruced us to do the same, to dany self and make obedience to the Fathe rour first priority. “Seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness,” he said. (Matthew 6:33) Paul expressed the idea when He said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
We give thanks to one who freely bestows a gift, a gift that is not earned and for which no payment is repaired. Some people have difficulty accepting such a gift, and instead of a siml “Thanks,” may protest with remarks like, “You really shouldn’t have,”“This is too much,”“I wish you hadn’t...” This reluctance to be a humble recipient may be a sing of pride,or a fear of beingobligated. To tive thanks to God requires us to humbly lay aside our pride and acknowledge that we are ever in debt to Him. It is only as we gladly accept this relationship that we can feel happy in giving Him thanks.
Antoher significant prayer of thanksgiving was during the Passsover,the night before Christ’s crucifixion. He knew that the time had come when He was to become the sacrifice of atonement on the stake. At the age of 33 He was to be shamed, tortured and executed as a criminal in the cruelest manner. He would suffer this shameful torture and death, not because it was His will, but because it was the Father’s will.