Are you grateful for what you have or are you mainly a complainer?
I regularly hear from poor, and often hungry, people in Africa. Their situations and problems remind me how grateful those of us in Western cultures should be for at least the physical blessings we have.
Do you give thanks to God? Does the Bible actually say to do that?
Does the Bible say anything about people who are not thankful?
What did the late evangelist Dibar Apartian write was 'the most common sin'?
Should you be giving thanks to God? For what?
What are some of the fruits of not being thankful?
This article will address those subjects and more. (Here is a link to a related sermon titled: Ingratitude and Giving Thanks.)
The New King James Version of the Bible has the word 'thank' 25 times, 'thanks' 75 times, 'thankful' 3 times, and 'thanksgiving' 32 times. It also has the word 'praise' 237 times and 'praises' 11 times.
Thanks and praise must be important to God. And God must think it is important for us to know.
Yet, the Bible teaches that in the last days, people will be selfish and unthankful:
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-6)
Notice that God does not want His people to associate much with the selfish who are unthankful. God wants His people to have gratitude, not ingratitude.
Unthankful people are often unhappy, and often unloving.
Notice what is prophesied towards those who will not serve God with joy:
47 "Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you. 49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. (Deuteronomy 28:47-51)
Oddly, people seem to think that complaining makes them happy. Many are selfish and seem to think that complaining is better for them than giving thanks.
Some seem to complain because they are Christian! Yet, God expects His people to be joyous:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-24)
People who are joyous and longsuffering tend to be thankful.
The Bible ties joy in with praise and thanks:
9 For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith? (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10)
11 the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say:
"Praise the Lord of hosts,
For the Lord is good,
For His mercy endures forever" —
and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. (Jeremiah 33:11)
4... I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. (Psalm 42:4)
3 For the Lord will comfort Zion,
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody. (Isaiah 51:3)
The 'pilgrim feast' is a reference to the Feast of Tabernacles (see also Christians are to Be Strangers and Pilgrims?).
Now let's look at some instructions from the New Testament:
18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:18-21)
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. (1 Timothy 1:12-13)
Now let's go back to the Old Testament:
8 Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
11 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
13 O seed of Israel His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones! (1 Chronicles 16:8-13)
There is a Psalm that is related to this (this and many other Psalms are in The Bible Hymnal that we in the Continuing Church of God use):
1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
3 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
4 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
5 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
6 O seed of Abraham His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones! (Psalm 105:1-6)
Notice one of the reasons why:
42 For He remembered His holy promise,
And Abraham His servant.
43 He brought out His people with joy,
His chosen ones with gladness.
44 He gave them the lands of the Gentiles,
And they inherited the labor of the nations,
45 That they might observe His statutes
And keep His laws.
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 105:42-45)
13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name;
The upright shall dwell in Your presence. (Psalm 140:13)
God will remember the promises He has made to us as well (e.g. What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?; Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?; and The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church).
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night,
3 On an instrument of ten strings,
On the lute,
And on the harp,
With harmonious sound. (Psalm 92:1-3)
10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!
He preserves the souls of His saints;
He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown for the righteous,
And gladness for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. (Psalm 97:10-12)
1 Praise the Lord!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
2 Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord?
Who can declare all His praise?
3 Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!
4 Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people.
Oh, visit me with Your salvation,
5 That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
That I may glory with Your inheritance.
6 We have sinned with our fathers,
We have committed iniquity,
We have done wickedly. (Psalm 106:1-6)
47 Save us, O Lord our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise. (Psalm 106:47)
1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, 3 And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; They found no city to dwell in. 5 Hungry and thirsty, Their soul fainted in them. 6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses. 7 And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place. 8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 9 For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
10 Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons — 11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High, 12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; They fell down, and there was none to help. 13 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. 15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 16 For He has broken the gates of bronze, And cut the bars of iron in two.
17 Fools, because of their transgression, And because of their iniquities, were afflicted. 18 Their soul abhorred all manner of food, And they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. 20 He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions. 21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare His works with rejoicing.
23 Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, 24 They see the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. 25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea. 26 They mount up to the heavens, They go down again to the depths; Their soul melts because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits' end. 28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. 29 He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. 30 Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven. 31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:1-31)
1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
2 Let Israel now say," His mercy endures forever." 3 Let the house of Aaron now say,"His mercy endures forever." 4 Let those who fear the Lord now say,"His mercy endures forever."
5 I called on the Lord in distress; The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The Lord is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me. 8 It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man. 9 It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes.
10 All nations surrounded me, But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. 11 They surrounded me, Yes, they surrounded me; But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. 12 They surrounded me like bees; They were quenched like a fire of thorns; For in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. 13 You pushed me violently, that I might fall, But the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 17 I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord. 18 The Lord has chastened me severely, But He has not given me over to death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord, Through which the righteous shall enter.
21 I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord. 27 God is the Lord, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You.
29 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 118:1-29)
1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 2 Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. 3 Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever:
4 To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever; 5 To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, For His mercy endures forever; 6 To Him who laid out the earth above the waters, For His mercy endures forever; 7 To Him who made great lights, For His mercy endures forever — 8 The sun to rule by day, For His mercy endures forever; 9 The moon and stars to rule by night, For His mercy endures forever.
10 To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn, For His mercy endures forever; 11 And brought out Israel from among them, For His mercy endures forever; 12 With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, For His mercy endures forever; 13 To Him who divided the Red Sea in two, For His mercy endures forever; 14 And made Israel pass through the midst of it, For His mercy endures forever; 15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, For His mercy endures forever; 16 To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His mercy endures forever; 17 To Him who struck down great kings, For His mercy endures forever; 18 And slew famous kings, For His mercy endures forever — 19 Sihon king of the Amorites, For His mercy endures forever; 20 And Og king of Bashan, For His mercy endures forever — 21 And gave their land as a heritage, For His mercy endures forever; 22 A heritage to Israel His servant, For His mercy endures forever.
23 Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever; 24 And rescued us from our enemies, For His mercy endures forever; 25 Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever.
26 Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 136:1-26)
Now, let's go further back in the Psalms:
48 He delivers me from my enemies.
You also lift me up above those who rise against me;
You have delivered me from the violent man.
49 Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles,
And sing praises to Your name. (Psalm 18:48-49)
Who is the enemy God delivers us from now? While sometimes they are physical, notice that the real ones are spiritual:
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints — 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:11-20)
Satan encourages sin and tries to amplify our lusts. And it is not Satan per se that is the problem, but our own lusts.
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
But God will deliver us if we believe:
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14)
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
God is to be praised:
1 We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near. (Psalm 75:1)
1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5)
Thankfulness gets our mind off our self and our own vanity.
While some people act like God wants massive sacrifice, notice that the following:
14 Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14)
17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord. (Psalm 116:17)
10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:10-16)
Why thank God?
Because God is love (1 John 4:8)--all He does is out of love--and He willingly pains Himself because of His love for us.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
Jesus was the Father's companion for eternity (cf. John 1) and the Father willingly offered Him for us.
The late evangelist Dibar Apartian wrote the following:
Your spiritual growth — absolutely vital for entrance into God's Kingdom — is measured in large part by the vital Christian quality of gratitude."What a beautiful day!" I exclaimed. " Look at that clear blue sky and those snowcapped mountains on the horizon!"
I was in France, conversing with a Church member as we stood on the balcony of a hotel room facing the Alps.
"Yes, indeed," he answered without the slightest hesitation. "It certainly is a magnificent day. It is breathtaking."
All of a sudden, I felt embarrassed, rather ashamed of myself. My companion, a war veteran, was blind. But somehow, in my enthusiasm, I had forgotten it.
"Please don't feel badly about it," he assured me, sensing my embarrassment. "Even though I am unable to see, I can smell and hear. I can touch and feel what you sometimes only see with your — eyes! I'm not so terribly handicapped after all, am I?"
No, he wasn't. He wasn't handicapped much at all. Actually, he could see more than I. There was no trace of sadness on his face, not a single word of complaint on his lips, no bitterness whatsoever in the tone of his voice. He was a grateful person - grateful to be alive, grateful to have friends and, above all, most grateful to be in God's Church.
What a pity most people don't know how to count their blessings — how to appreciate what they have, how to be thankful and grateful.
"Think on these things"Does your mind dwell on all the things that you as a Christian have to be positive about, or do you have trouble thinking of things to be thankful for?
As the apostle Paul said, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Phil. 4:8).
Did you notice that there is not a single unhappy thought in these instructions? No complaints. No gripes. No negative attitudes.
This truly is a commandment of God, but how many of us in God's Church today respect it? A lack of gratitude can prevent us from putting this teaching into practice.
Have you learned to be grateful? Are your prayers to God filled with praise and thanksgiving, or do you continually bother Him with requests and complaints? Examine your heart next time you get on your knees to talk to Him in secret.
One of the most frequently quoted verses in the Bible, even by those who don't consider God's Word to be inspired, is Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Do you actually believe that all things are working together for your good? You should if you fulfill the clearly stated conditions: You must love God and you must be called according to His purpose. This promise definitely applies to you.
Consider the story of the 10 lepers who begged Christ to have mercy on them. What happened after they were healed? Only one of them, "when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks" (Luke 17:15-16, Revised Standard, Version). And he was a Samaritan, not even an Israelite. Strange, isn't it?
Whether gentiles or Israelites, where were the other nine? Weren't they also healed? That's the very question Christ asked, saying, "Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" (verse 18).
David's exampleWhat made King David a man after God's own heart? Was it perhaps his courage? His willingness to repent of his sins? His earnest desire to search God's ways?
Undoubtedly all of these were contributing factors, but one of David's greatest qualities Was his gratitude toward God. Amidst sorrows, trials and persecutions, he constantly praised God; he always sang psalms. of thanksgiving and appreciation.
Notice Psalm 100: "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his "people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
How uplifting! Do you, as a Christian, actually feel this way? Do you share these sentiments? Are you grateful to God for everything? Be honest! What are your thoughts most of the time? When you get up in the morning? During your conversations each day? What's your attitude at work with the people around you? What thoughts do you generally entertain when you are alone?
If you are truly converted, the thoughts of Psalm 100 should be on your lips and in your heart, whatever the circumstances.
Christ a man of joySuppose you were asked to count your blessings one by one? How would you go about it? What would be on top of your list? Your wife? Your husband? Your children? The health you may enjoy? The job you have? The country you live in?
Would you think of God's love for you as your greatest blessing? Are you grateful for your calling — for being in His Church with the tremendous opportunities it offers you to serve? Some aren't. They don't quite appreciate their calling.
But how about you?
Life is not always easy — for anyone. You may be having serious problems today — trying moments that are hard to understand, and for which you don't honestly feel that you can be grateful.
But can you name any man of God who didn't encounter hardships and persecutions? Of course not. Life challenges us with circumstances that contribute to our growth. Did Jesus have an easy life on earth? Easier than yours? You know better: "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin" (Heb. 12:3-4).
Yet Jesus was a man of joy. He told us to share His joy with Him. Trials, tribulations and persecutions are necessary in building Christian character.
On one occasion when Christ told a man that to be a true Christian meant to be willing to literally give up everything and follow Him, His own disciples were upset. They thought the conditions were much too harsh to allow anyone to be saved.
But Christ told them: "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands" — look what comes next — "with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30, RSV).
A Christian, therefore, is not only promised blessings, but also persecutions. That's part of your calling — part of your joy. Are you willing to accept your share of the covenant — and to meet life's challenges? Unfortunately, when persecutions come, some weaken and forget to be thankful. They forget their blessings and begin to count their sorrows.
Actually, all of us in God's Church, whatever our condition, are very blessed. All of us — whatever our problems — have more reasons to be thankful to God than any other human beings on earth.
James wrote: "My brethren, count it" all joy when you fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (Jas. 1:2-4).
Do you really understand this teaching? You have to "count it all joy" not only when things go right, but also when they go wrong. Anyone can be happy and joyful when life is full of smiles. But only a true Christian can express gratitude when undergoing trials.
Paul rejoicedThe apostle Paul perhaps suffered more than any other disciple of Christ. Yet his epistles are filled with thanksgiving and gratitude. He exhorts us to "Rejoice evermore" (I Thess. 5:16). You cannot possibly rejoice if you keep complaining and counting your miseries. And you cannot be. in the right attitude if you forget the will of God. "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God," stated Paul (verse 18, RSV). Rejoicing, prayer and giving thanks are commanded by God.
Like King David, Paul too was a man after God's own heart. He too was courageous, obedient, repentant and wanted to learn God's way. And he had learned, as all of us must, to be happy in whatever state he was (Phil. 4:11).
Here was Paul's secret. He knew that God's Spirit in him strengthened him in all of his trials and actually enabled him to do "all things" in the fulfillment of his mission.
If you have this type of attitude, then no matter what happens to you — whether you be sick or in good health, poor or rich — you can always get on your knees and praise God, saying: "Thank you, God, for your blessings. Thank you for your love and mercy. Thank you for your patience with me."
No temptation too greatYou probably have read Herbert W. Armstrong's autobiography. You have learned the way God dealt with him and brought him down to his knees. After reading his story and seeing what he went through, would you say that Mr. Armstrong's life has been an easy one? Hasn't he suffered much hardship and adverse circumstances? But God has blessed him for enduring. Notice how much Mr. Armstrong's heart, despite all his trials, has continuously been filled with gratitude toward God.
God tells us He will never allow any temptation to test us beyond our endurance. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Cor. 10:13).
Growth in gratitude is a sign of spiritual growth.
The moment you stop being grateful you put yourself on Satan's wavelength and become vulnerable to his attacks. Satan wants you to complain, because that's one sure way of making you turn away from God.
Decide to be thankfulHere is a challenge for you: Make up your mind that for 12 consecutive hours, you won't complain. Don't allow any gripes or murmurs to enter your words or your thoughts, no matter what happens. Say to yourself, "All things work together for my good." You may be surprised at the result and the sudden fantastic change in your life.
In all probability, you may find this challenge rather hard to meet, because complaining could very well be a part of your daily life — a routine you follow, consciously or not. But try it — force yourself to try it. Set your mind, your eyes, your thoughts on the ultimate goal — on the purpose of your existence, on the opportunities you will have in God's Kingdom to help and serve. Discard from your mind any thoughts that may be a hindrance to your resolution. Like my friend who was blind, feel what you cannot see and be joyful and thankful for what you have.
If you don't succeed the first time, try it again until you succeed. And then make a habit of it. God Himself will give you all the help you need. The promise He made to the ancient Israelites also applies to you: "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today... The Lord will fight for, you, and you have only to be still" (Ex. 14:13-14, RSV).
What more encouragement do you need? God will fight for you if you stop complaining and only express gratitude.
Then you will fully grasp the deep meaning of Paul's words, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).
(Apartian D. The Most Common Sin - ARE YOU GUILTY? Good News, May 1980)
While God only knows that the most common sin is, ingratitude is certainly a very common occurrence.
And basically, you could even consider that ingratitude is, in a sense, what leads to the unpardonable sin, as that is part of the attitude of those that blaspheme the Holy Spirit (e.g. Matthew 12:31; see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?). Actually, speaking of the unpardonable sin, it would seem that one who is grateful to God could not have committed it.
The Bible warns against complainers:
39 Why should a living man complain, A man for the punishment of his sins? (Lamentations 3:39)
Of course, since your complaints often come more closely to acts done by others, you might not realize that punishments are coming to you to help you change.
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:7-9)
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now
"If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:12-19)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:2-3)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)
Those who give thanks more are often likely to complain less and helps people be patient/longsuffering.
While many feel that if God did a miracle for them they would automatically be thankful, that is not always the case. Notice some of Jesus' experience:
11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
14 So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
17 So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" 19 And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:11-19)
Notice something that the old Radio Church of God:
Many prayer requests come to our Pasadena offices. Hundreds of anointed handkerchiefs are sent out each month. Many people are anointed personally by God's ministers.
Many are healed. But they "forget" to write in and mention it. Some remember -- a year later.
But what of the hundreds who never write at all?... And how many ever bother to give God thanks in the privacy of their own homes? (Antion D. Be Thankful. The Good News, August 1967)
Perhaps you think that you do not have to listen to God and give thanks. Consider that the Bible says:
14 Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (Proverbs 28:14)
You might be thinking that this is not talking about people who try to follow God. But consider King Hezekiah:
16 Sennacherib’s servants further insulted the Lord God and his servant Hezekiah. 17 He wrote letters mocking the Lord God of Israel and insulting him with these words: “The gods of the surrounding nations could not rescue their people from my power. Neither can Hezekiah’s god rescue his people from my power.” 18 They called out loudly in the Judahite dialect to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, trying to scare and terrify them so they could seize the city. 19 They talked about the God of Jerusalem as if he were one of the man-made gods of the nations of the earth. 20 King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz prayed about this and cried out to heaven. 21 The Lord sent a messenger and he wiped out all the soldiers, princes, and officers in the army of the king of Assyria. So Sennacherib returned home humiliated. When he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons struck him down with the sword. 22 The Lord delivered Hezekiah and the residents of Jerusalem from the power of King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the other nations. He made them secure on every side. 23 Many were bringing presents to the Lord in Jerusalem and precious gifts to King Hezekiah of Judah. From that time on he was respected by all the nations.
24 In those days Hezekiah was stricken with a terminal illness. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a sign confirming that he would be healed. 25 But Hezekiah was ungrateful; he had a proud attitude, provoking God to be angry at him, as well as Judah and Jerusalem. 26 But then Hezekiah and the residents of Jerusalem humbled themselves and abandoned their pride, and the Lord was not angry with them for the rest of Hezekiah’s reign. (2 Chronicles 32:16-26, NET Bible)
4 Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
5 For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
6 Now in my prosperity I said,
"I shall never be moved."
7 Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
8 I cried out to You, O Lord;
And to the Lord I made supplication:
9 "What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
10 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me;
Lord, be my helper!"
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
The Bible has this warning to the unthankful:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)
While the above does not happen to actual Christians who are less thankful than they should be, the Bible does warn that end time Christians will not heed what Jesus wants them to and they will be rebuked because of that (Revelation 3:14-22).
The Apostle Paul wrote:
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. (Romans 16:3-5)
30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? (1 Corinthians 10:30)
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (Ephesians 1:15-18)
3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit. (Colossians 1:3-8)
2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2-4)
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4)
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15)
3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, (2 Timothy 1:3-4)
4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. (Philemon 4-7)
Paul was thankful for those that God would call. Are you?
Notice that there is joy in heaven because of those who repent:
7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
Amen." (Revelation 7:11-12)
God wants us to be thankful, because that is true and good for us.
Thankfulness helps us look to God and well as helps us develop godly character, including patience.
Thankfulness helps us better realize God's role in our lives.
Give thanks to God.
Here is a link to a related sermon titled: Ingratitude and Giving Thanks
Thiel B. Give Thanks to God. http://www.cogwriter.com/giving-thanks.htm COGwriter (c) 2015 1101
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