“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as Creator nor gave thanks to Him.” – Romans 1:20-21
This is the time of year when we shine a spotlight on gratitude. Being thankful garners more attention in November than it does the rest of the year. News programs have even run special features on the many health benefits of maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Online articles and magazines talk about the importance of being thankful for the little things and keeping a gratitude journal. All of this is well and good, but does it ever seem like something is missing from all the conversation?
Culture often talks about thankfulness in a general, abstract manner and pushes God right out of the equation. But if there is no God, then who are we thankful to? Our world has embraced the idea of expressing thanks; it just hasn’t embraced the idea of expressing thanks to the Lord. This doesn’t make any sense. It’s like trying to say, “thank you” for a gift without saying it to the Giver.
This is why the last two words in verse 21 of Romans 1 are so important: “…to Him.” Expressing thanks is a hollow endeavor if it’s not said to Him.
Gratitude begins with an awareness of His grace. We must recognize that He is the ultimate source of every blessing in our lives. John, a disciple of Jesus, says it clearly, “from the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16). Other translations say, “grace upon grace.” Each day, Jesus showers us with His grace like one ocean wave after another. Wave after wave of endless grace!
James, the half-brother of Jesus, articulates it this way, “every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of heavenly lights…” (1:17).
The point is clear. Every “gift” in our lives comes from a Person, our Heavenly Father. Take a quick inventory of all of the various blessings in your life: family, friends, the places you go, possessions, joyful experiences, your health, your job, etc. The list goes on and on. Consider that each one of these gifts was made to turn your attention to the Giver.
But there’s a problem, isn’t there? In our sinful condition, it is far more natural for us to drift away from gratitude than towards gratitude. We fail to recognize our Creator as the source of all of our blessings. We so easily neglect expressing thanks to Him and incidentally take His grace for granted.
So…take a moment to intentionally move towards gratitude. Spend some time thanking the Lord for some of the specific blessings in your life. Remember, genuine gratitude is meant to be far more than a quick, casual prayer before a meal or a flippant acknowledgment of God.
Gratitude should be a deep, heartfelt response for the grace and goodness of Jesus in your life.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH