"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High; To show forth Thy loving kindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every night" (Psalm 91:1-2, AV).
There are few things that delight the heart of an adult like a little child. We take pleasure in seeing what they do and hearing what they say. We take special note when they take their first steps and say their first words. But not only do they add pleasure to our lives, they also educate us. We can learn alot from the little people around us.
One thing parents learn is that showing gratitude does not come naturally to children; they have to learn how to do it. If you give them some candy/sweets they will take it, but if they are asked to say thank you, they may well refuse to do it. And come to think of it, showing gratitude doesn't come naturally to adults either. We too are happy to receive something good, but we little think to offer our gratitude to the giver.
This is illustrated in Luke 17:11-19. The Bible tells us of ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, but only one returned to give Him thanks. Leprosy was one of the most dreaded diseases in the world where Jesus lived, and one would assume that a person who was healed would manifest much thanksgiving. But not so. Even the greatest of earth's blessings sometimes fails to elicit a word of gratitude from our lips.
A more recent illustration of this can be found in the story of Edward Spencer. Spencer was enrolled as a student at Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois, and one evening while studying in the library, a crisis arose that changed his life forever.
A storm was raging out of doors, and suddenly some fellows came bursting in, telling him excitedly that the Lady Elgin had run aground on the rocks lining the shore of Lake Michigan near the campus. Spencer took off some of his clothing and fought his way to the wreck, bringing his first passenger to safety. Again and again he repeated his heroic actions, saving the lives of many people. Those on the shore tried to dissuade him from further attempts to save more lives, but he replied to the effect that he had to do his best. Again he plunged into the icy waters, and altogether he rescued 17 people who otherwise would have perished.
Ed Spencer did his best, but he did it at great cost to himself. His heroics caused him to lose his health, and in the years that followed, he lived the life of a semi invalid. On one occasion, a certain man was traveling in the western states and happened to stop in Phoenix, Arizona. He had learned that Spencer was living there and decided to pay him a visit. His home was a humble cottage near the edge of town. The traveller commended the hero for his actions many years earlier and said: "I'm sure that those you rescued haven't forgotten and they do remember with some help from time to time." After a long moment of silence, and with tears running down his cheeks, Spencer replied: "Not one ever came back and even said thank you." This fact was again noted some years later at his funeral. No one had even said thank you.
One natural reticence to offer gratitude must be one reason why the Bible commands God's people to offer thanks to Him. Paul says: "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving" (Eph.5:4, AV); "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything" (Eph.5:20, AV); "you were called to peace. And be thankful" (Col.3:15, AV); "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Col.3:17, AV); "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ" (1 Thess.5:19, AV). The Psalms instruct us to "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever" (Psa.136:1, AV).
In the first chapter of Romans the lack of thanksgiving is considered so wrong that it incurred the wrath of God. People who know God are without excuse if they do not glorify Him and be thankful (Rom.1:18-21). Ingratitude is not a little sin, since the wrath of God will be revealed against unthankfulness. Not only should we teach our children to say the "golden words" of "thank you" but these should be expressed especially to God as part of our training of our children (Prov.22:6).
In every season and in every place, no matter who we are with, let us therefore honour the Lord for His many mercies toward us. Let us offer Him our thanks, for indeed He is good to us, and to likewise thank each other for every little good thing that is done for us. Amen.
Original sermons first printed in SlavŠ nadÍje (Czechoslovak Baptist Convention), October 1994, p.86, 100 and rewritten by Christopher C. Warren
This page was created on 12 May 1998
Last updated on 12 May 1998
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