GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 585• November 22, 2020
HOW TO SHOW GRATITUDE TO GOD
There are four levels of gratitude that one may reach.
- The level of the lips – saying “thanks,” or some words that convey gratitude. But if the words are insincere they are not valid – they are lies. Lying words may sound good to the one addressed, but they are a discredit to the one who speaks them.
- The level of the hands – doing something to show gratitude, in response to something done for you or given to you. But if the action is forced or coerced and is not an honest reflection of feelings it too is a lie. The act is good but the motive behind it is not.
- The level of the heart – actually being grateful. When the gratitude is heartfelt it will show up in the lips and in the hands, sincere and genuine words and acts of appreciation which is …
- The level of the life – one lives a life of gratitude.
STEPS TO A POSITIVE GRATEFUL CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE.
One: Guard your own mind and thoughts (Prov. 4:23). Look for the good in everything, no matter what (Rom. 8:28). Bar all suggestive, lustful, and immoral things from your mind. Fill your mind with positive things (Phil. 4:8). Do not surrender to negative emotions. Avoid all selfishness.
Two: Be other-person-centered (Phil. 2:4, Mt. 7:12). Acknowledge and respond to the good in others. Do good: return good for good, but also return good for evil (Rom. 12:21). Allow others to give to you and do things for you. Acts 20:35 does not mean one should not receive. Others cannot have the blessing of giving if there is no receiver. Giving and receiving build up the church and its individual members (Phil. 4:15-16).
Three: Practice positive praise and prayer. God is worthy of our praise. Praise Him. Prayers of petition and intercession should be offered in faith, believing in God who is able to help and able to give – and willing to do so when asked (1 Tim. 2:1, James 1:6). Just remember that prayer is incomplete and may not bring the desired or requested result if it does not include thanks-giving (Phil. 4:6-7, Eph. 5:20).
Four: Focus on what you have and not what you don’t have, on what you have received from others and not just what you have done for yourself. If you are inclined to compare your blessedness with that of others, here are a few points to help you move in the right direction. If you have nutritious food and safe drinking water, you are better off than about two thirds of all the people in the world. If you have adequate clothing, a house to live in, and easy transportation about half of the world will envy you. If you have, or have had, parents who love you and love each other – what a blessed treasure that is! Even if you don’t get what you want or what you ask for, you can probably be grateful you don’t get some things you deserve, “what you’ve got coming to you.” If your soul has been saved by obedience to Christ, you have something only about one in 7,000 can claim with any reasonable assurance. All the other things you may be thankful for are as nothing if you are not among those saved by Christ.
Having made that statement we can turn to the second major part of this lesson.
PSALM 116 PROVIDES A HELPFUL ANSWER TO A PERPLEXING PROBLEM.
Read the whole Psalm, but we will focus on Verses 12–19.
How can I express the deep gratitude of my heart to God for all His benefits? (12)
First: By accepting and receiving His salvation. (13a) I will take the cup of salvation… Countless millions will thank the Lord for physical blessings and ask for more of the same. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that. But most of them will still reject Christ as Lord and Savior. Why are people willing to receive God’s secondary blessings but want nothing to do with His primary blessing, His greatest blessing, His own Son?
We express our gratitude by prayer. (13b) …and call upon the name of the Lord. Where God is concerned, too many “write home when we need money or things.” We ought to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), be ready and able to pray at any time and all times. Before asking for anything more be sure to give thanks for what you have already received (Phil. 4:6).
We express gratitude by good stewardship. (14, 18) I will pay my vows to the Lord. Have you noticed how people treat gifts they do not appreciate? I wonder if some of the gifts we offer to God are not appreciated by Him because they are unworthy of being offered to Him. We can thank God properly by appreciating and using His gifts to us and by offering Him gifts that are worthy and acceptable evidence of our reverence for Him.
We can express gratitude by sacrifice. (15, 17) I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Sacrifice does not mean “give until it hurts” or “give more than you can afford” or “deprive yourself of something so you can give it to the Lord.” Sacrifice does not mean “take it off the top, before your use anything or give it to anybody else– before taxes, before bills are paid,” etc. Sacrifice is not “leftovers.” Aren’t you glad God does give to us on the leftover level?
Actually, all the word sacrifice means is gift. A gift, with no strings or conditions attached, something set aside to be the property of others – the literal transfer of ownership. I cannot give what belongs to others. I can only give what belongs to me. And when I give it, it belongs to the one I give it to and no longer belongs to me. It was mine, but I gave it away, and it now belongs only to the one I gave it to. Giving to the church and giving to others should be seen first of all as giving to God. We give to God through others, but the gift is ultimately to Him.
The greatest gift one can give to God is one’s own self. Actually, no other gift can be given to God unless one gives himself (2 Cor. 8:5, Rom. 12:1). Some cannot give themselves fully to God because they cannot let go of improper companions, filthy habits, the hope of popularity and fame, business, family, and a host of other things they know God will not accept. One who has not offered himself – his will, his body, his life, and his soul – to God has not really offered a proper thanks-gift, an adequate thanksgiving for what has been done for him and made available to him in Jesus Christ.
We can express gratitude by honoring God’s house. (14, 18, and 19). …Now, in the presence of all His people. In the courts of the Lord’s house… For us, the Lord’s house is the church, the people who are in fellowship with God in and through Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 3:15, 1 Peter 2:5 a spiritual house). One must not cause stumbling to any member of the house of God. One must not bring reproach upon the Lord, His house, or His people (1 Cor. 10:31-32).
WRITE YOUR OWN THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION, YOUR OWN DECLARATION OF THANKS-GIVING TO GOD.
You may not want to share it with others, but it could be very helpful if you did so. I am giving you here a part of the list of things for which I give thanks to God every day.
Although I am getting older and my health and vigor are rapidly diminishing, I thank God that I am still able to get around, able to function in some capacity.
When there are so many who have no mate or who have a mate who cannot be trusted to be faithful, can’t be depended upon for encouragement and support or who will not express and demonstrate love, I thank God for a wife who has been constantly loving and supportive, steadfastly loyal and faithful.
When there are so many churches and preachers who do not get along and who do not trust each other, I thank God for the churches in DuQuoin and Marion, Illinois and Elbasan, Albania for the general confidence they have in me, and for the help and encouragement many have given during some difficult and doubtful times.
When there are so many would-be servants who feel unwelcome and unwanted, I thank God for those who have been willing to accept my offers to help, and have been kind enough to say that I have actually been helpful.
Though the churches I serve are only small groups, when so many churches are falling away from the truth and are not willing to have and heed sound doctrine proclaimed from their pulpits, I thank God for congregations of people generally concerned about truth and willing to stand firmly upon it, whether or not others in the world will do so.
I do not know who first coined the word thanks–living. But I do believe thanks-giving is not possible, not really valid or credible – not believable – without it.
If you have cause to be thankful, find a way to express it and find a way to show it in the way you live your life, in the way you relate to others, and in your relationship to God.