The Audacity of Thankfulness.
We live in a greedy time. Our culture is one of abject selfishness and greed. This is displayed by the rise of socialism in our nation. Socialism as a belief looks at what others have and demands it be given to them or others. This ideology is directly opposed to thankfulness. It is also the clear outcome of moral relativism. It is the fruit of our Darwinistic culture. So what else should we expect? Why should we be thankful? That person over there has more than that other person! How un-equitable. This thought process is the opposite of orthodox Christianity. Christianity is a religion of thankfulness. It is the foundation of thanksgiving. How so? Because Christianity teaches that God blesses us. “17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17.
Christianity is directly opposed to greed and covetousness. This is so much the case that one of the ten commandments is “Thou shalt not covet.” So why then do we see so much of the church wrapped up in greed? If they themselves are not actively participating in greed and covetousness, they are justifying it. Many of our religious leaders justified the looting and riots of our past several years. This is wicked and vile. But why is this? It is because the church as a whole has lost the idea of the sovereignty of God. The church no longer preaches the sovereignty of God who declares the ends from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:10) Instead, they preach a helpless God who is indignant at the injustices we face, but is helpless to stop them. The church foolishly thinks that this will make God seem more sympathetic and relatable.
They slander God and completely misrepresent Him. Make no mistake. God is Sovereign. God is completely in control of all things. Not one thing has ever happened outside of His divine decree. He has declared what will happen and that is what happens. And here is the objection that so often comes at statements like this. “That makes God mean!” or “That is unfair of God!” or as Paul anticipates the objection to this same argument, “14 What shall we say then? Is there any unrighteousness with God? May it never be!” Romans 9:14. God is not unfair. God is not unjust. God is righteous. And beyond this, God is sovereign. The Bible is not lying about God’s power and control, despite your opinions. God is in complete control and He is the one who gives every good gift.
What does this have to do with greed? God gives us all blessings. Some more than others. If God is in control of all, we ought to thank Him for what He has given us rather than be jealous for what He has given others. God has chosen to bless us with what He has blessed us with and have not blessed us with what He chose to withhold. This is God’s prerogative. He can do this. Remember, He is God. It is ours to obey His commands in how we handle the blessings He has given us. But as a whole, the church seems to neglect one common command. That is the command of thanksgiving. Here is a small snippet of the command in Scripture to give thanks.
Oh give thanks to Yahweh, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness endures forever. 1 Chron 16:34
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful. Col 3:15
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; Col 4:2
17 pray without ceasing;18 in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:17-18
We are so slow to obey this command. Christians seem more content to envy and complain. But this must not be. We must give thanks. Give thanks to the sovereign God who has chosen to give you the multitude of blessings you have! Give thanks to the sovereign God who has chosen to withhold what He has not given you. Hallelujah to the King who knows all and does what He pleases. Hallelujah to the loving God who declares all things!
I have many great blessings. I have many great challenges. But I will give thanks to God. God has blessed me with a loving wife. I thank God! God has blessed me with a Son! Praise be to the triune God! God has blessed me with a home! Blessed is the name of God! God has blessed me with a loving church! Thanks be to God! God has blessed me with loving family and friends! Thanks be to God!
God has withheld the blessing of health in my son. I thank God! God withheld the blessing of financial stability due to hospital bills. Praise be to the triune God! God has withheld our ability to be peacefully at home. Blessed is the name of God! God has withheld the blessing of knowing what to do in this hard time. Thanks be to God! God has kept us away from our loving family and friends. Thanks be to God!
I am not attempting to twist these horrible things as being somehow blessings. They are not. I am not confused, nor am I lying. These negative things are trials, pains, and horrible things. It is awful that my son is sick. But I am not jealous of the health of other children (though I at times must bring this before God). I do not wish other children to be sick for the sake of my son. I bless God for my son. I thank almighty God for His grace in giving me an heir. I am not blind to the fact that we would much rather be at home. But God has withheld this blessing. We are stuck here in the hospital. I hate it. But I trust God.
The God of the Bible is sovereign. He is God. He is good. And in His infinite wisdom, He saw fit to withhold some blessings. That is hard. I do not claim to know why. But it does not dampen my trust in God. He is my God and I am His son. So rather than looking in greed and jealousy at the blessings God chose to give to others while withholding them from me, I will preach the truth of Scripture. God is sovereign. I trust in Him. This gives me peace. God has given us what we are facing. We will be faithful to Him in this.
So let us be thankful. Let us laugh. Let us feast. Let us bless almighty God for what He has done. Let us look to what God has given us and thank Him, rather than look to what God has given others. Today, let us raise our glass and thank God for all the blessings He has given. Bless God for the wine in your cup. If it is little, thank Him for it. If it is much, thank Him for it. While the world is consumed with greed, this is the audacity of thankfulness. When we are thankful to God, we declare the gospel.
Thank the Lord all you His people and refrain from greed and jealousy. Eat fatty foods, drink deep, and thank God. Amen.