Give Thanks

Bible Book: Colossians  3 : 15-17
Subject: Thanksgiving; Gratitude; Worship
Introduction

In advertising its Thanksgiving dinner, a restaurant used the following ad, 'Thanksgiving made easy.' Actually, thanksgiving is not all that easy. A truly thankful heart requires commitment and tenacity. We are prone to be selfish, proud and arrogant. The Bible commands gratitude because it is necessary in order to be all that God intends us to be. But it is also commanded because it does not come natural to us to have an attitude of gratitude. Colossians 3:15-17 tell us plainly and clearly that whatever we do, we are to do it with all our hearts adding thanksgiving to God at all times.

Actually, thanksgiving would be a lot easier if we only knew how blessed we really are – even when circumstances aren’t necessarily to our liking. For example, I heard the story of an elderly man about to repair the roof of his house was seen climbing a ladder with nails stuffed in his mouth and a hammer in his hand. Later a neighbor heard him praising the Lord. Curious, he asked, “What's all the shouting about?" The man repairing his roof said, "I swallowed a nail and dropped my hammer." His friend replied, “Well, I can't see why you're happy about that.” The old man said, “O, but I a happy! I'm thankful I didn't drop the nail and swallow the hammer!”

Today we need to think about being grateful. This subject is one mentioned often in Scripture and for good reasons as we shall see.

I. The Sin of Ingratitude

Among the list of sins which we could develop, a lack of gratitude would certainly not rank any where near the top of that list. Yet, the command and instruction to be thankful is mentioned in Scripture again and again. Often it is spoken to us as a direct command from the Lord. It is not a suggestion but an imperative in almost every case. The Bible even tells us that a lack of gratitude will be one of the increasing perils in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-2). A lack of thankfulness has different dimensions. We might say that it evidenced in three forms, all of which violate the Lord’s continual command in Scripture for us to be thankful.

A. Forgetfulness (Neglect)

In Psalm 103:2 we are told not to forget the Lord’s benefits. Forgetfulness of God’s blessings is a terrible sin. It is the sin of taking for granted all that God has done for us. Forgetfulness is not rebellion, it is neglect. Yet, it is sinful and dangerous.

Do you realize that neglect of God is a sin which will cause many to miss heaven. Look at Hebrews 2:3, which states, “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.” To ignore or neglect God’s gift of life through Christ leaves one in his sins. You do not have to be in rebellion against God to end up in hell, you need only forget or neglect to receive God’s gift in Christ.

For the Christian, neglecting to give thanks is a sin. We are told not to forget the benefits of the Lord toward us.

B. Selfishness (Pride)

Hezekiah committed the sin of being ungrateful to God through selfishness. Look at 2 Chronicles 32:25 which reads, “But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.”

A lack of gratitude is a sure sign that we are full of self. Remember, pride goes before the fall. The Lord keeps the proud far from Him, meaning that the Lord does not reveal Himself in power to those who do not have and express gratitude.

C. Bitterness (Murmuring, Grumbling)

The final step in a lack of gratitude is murmuring and grumbling. To do this fails to recognize how blessed we really are. . Paul S. Rees tells of a man whose job it was to transport people who had been committed to a mental hospital. After delivering a patient one day, he was walking to his car when a voice called out, “Hey you!” It came from an upper floor of the hospital. Looking up, the man called back, “Are you speaking to me?" The voice from the window answered, “Yes, I want to ask you a question. Have you ever thanked God that you have a healthy mind?” The driver spoke of this incident saying, “I suddenly realized that after bringing people to this hospital for 15 years, I had never once thanked God for a good mind.”

This is the danger. We may well forget to thank God for the things He has kept us from as well as the things He has done for us.

II. The Seriousness of Ingratitude

A. Physical

Actually, God has designed you to be physically blessed by the attitude of gratitude. We are learning more everyday about the dangers of stress and depression. Doctors and scientist continue to discover through data and tests that stress and despondency lead to psychological problems, disease and early death. God knew this long before we figured it out. Proverbs 17:22 states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” According to medical research, cheerful people resist disease better than glum ones. In other words, “The surly bird catches the germ.”

During the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln was criticized for his cheerful spirit. He replied, “With the fearful strain that is upon me, if I did not laugh I should die.” In the heat of the battle of life, we need to be able to thank and praise God. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

B. Social

Attitudes are catching. When we are negative, people catch a negative spirit from us. When we are thankful, people inherit a thankful, glad spirit from us. That is why the Bible admonishes us to speak happy, praiseworthy things to each other. Look at Ephesians 5:19-20. We are told to lift each other up with the songs of praise and the thoughts of God’s goodness. We drag God’s people down when we fail to be thankful.

C. Spiritual

In Daniel 6:10 we note that Daniel prayed three times daily, thanking God. No wonder he was such a spiritual giant for God. A lack of gratitude can affect you spiritually. We may say the reverse; a lack of Spiritual fullness can cause you to be unthankful. Either way, a lack of thankfulness is a spiritual problem and it puts a barrier between you and your God.

D. Eternal (Philippians 2:14-16)

Psalm 69:30-32 tells us that glorifying God through thanksgiving speaks to the those who need the Lord and brings them to trust the Lord. The absence of such thankfulness does the very opposite. In fact, giving thanks to God and bearing a witness to the lost go hand in hand. Look at Psalm 105:1 to see this.

A preacher had made several attempts to bring a university professor to faith in Christ, all without success. The professor continued to come to the church and then one Sunday he stepped out and came to the front of the church following the message and stated that he was coming to profess his faith in Christ as his Savior. After the service the preacher asked the man what in his message had prompted the man to finally take the step of faith. The professor said, “Preacher, it was not your message, but a little boy who touched me. Last week as I was leaving the service I bumped into this boy. The boy looked up at me with a big, beaming smile on his face and said, ‘Mister, ain't it good being a Christian!’ I nodded, but I knew I wasn't really a Christian. I've thought about that little lad all week. The joy on his face, the thankfulness on his lips touched me. When I come to the end of the way I want to have that kind of peace and happiness.”

There is eternal power in the thankfulness and joy of a believing Christian. You I can bring people to faith in Christ through and attitude of gratitude.

III. The Subduing of Ingratitude

A. Repent

We need to ask God to forgive us for our lack of thankfulness. As with all sins, we must confess in order to be cleansed. Just think back over the past few days. How often have you found yourself complaining. Compare that to the times you actually praised and thanked God.

Often when in traffic, I will complain about a slow driver in front of me. God convicted me about that and urged me to think about how blessed I was to have an automobile to drive. He led me to think of all the miles I had driven with hardly a accident in over 50 years of driving. I was ashamed as I thought about how good God has been to me. I get in the car now and do my best to thank the Lord before I pull out of my driveway. I am not perfect at this process but I am better than I have ever been before. It came about through conviction by the Holy Spirit, confession and repentance on my part.

I am sure that you can think of areas where you tend to complain when you should be grateful. Repent of that attitude and begin to thank Him continually!

B. Return

In Psalms we are told to “Come into His gates with thanksgiving.” Return to the Lord with praise and gratitude today.

The Word for Thankfulness in the Bible speaks of the extended hand. It speaks of Praise, Purity, Possessions, and Performance. You see this clearly in Psalm 100. Praise Him with the extended hand of exaltation. Open your hands to have the full forgiveness of God. Give Him all you have as an act of gratitude. Serve Him with gladness. Do with your hands whatever you can do and do it all with thankfulness.

C. Remember

I challenge you to do something starting today. Begin a journal into which you write at least one thing for which you are thankful for each day. By next thanksgiving, you will have a journal of at least (and I suspect much more) 365 testimonies of thankfulness. Try it. You will be surprised how many different things you are thankful for that slip past you everyday. This will improve your "thank-life" and will cause you to be a better person, a better witness and a better Christian.

Conclusion

Eric Bridges writes:

In a leper colony on Tobago, an island in the Caribbean, short-term missions volunteer Jack Hinton, is leading the music for a worship service. He asks the lepers to request their favorite songs. The time comes for one last song, and a woman whose back had been to the pulpit turns around.

“I saw the most hideous face I had ever seen,” says Hinton, a North Carolina pastor. “The woman's nose and ears were entirely gone. Her lips had almost rotted away. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?’”

Overcome with emotion, Hinton leaves the service. Another volunteer missionary follows him out to console him. `Jack,' he says, `I guess you'll never be able to sing that song again, will you?'

`Oh, yes, I will,' Hinton responds, `but I'll never sing it the same way again.' [SBC Life, Feb/Mar 1996. Page 1.]