The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
Part 2 - Gratitude and Relationship
"I thank my lucky stars." Most people who use this phrase probably don't actually mean they are grateful to inanimate balls of gas that mindlessly exist millions of light years from our planet. They rather intuitively know that when things go well, gratitude to someone or something should be the natural response of our hearts and minds.
"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Why did God make human beings with the capacity for expressing thanksgiving to Him and others (as opposed to "lucky stars")? One answer lies in the relational nature of gratitude. When we do something for someone else, we don't need their expression of appreciation. However, like the leper we considered yesterday who was made whole by being healed and by giving thanks, gratitude completes the personal transaction of giving and receiving (Luke 17:15-19). There is something about thanksgiving that makes personal the giving and receiving of blessing. A stranger opens a door for us. We look into their eyes, smile, and express our appreciation. Something more than just a kind act and the acknowledgment thereof takes place. The moment may be fleeting, but hearts and minds connect in a way that would not occur without the recipient offering thanks and the giver acknowledging it. We exist for this, that is, for personal relationship with God and others. Gratitude thus serves as as a significant and vital aspect of this fundamental aspect of our nature.
This truth especially applies to our relationship with God. "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord" (Psalm 92:1). He loves, but does not need our gratitude. However, we most definitely require gratitude to fill our hearts and grace our lips, even as A.W. Tozer wrote, "Thanksgiving is the sweetener of the soul." In our present lives, thanksgiving reveals we are looking to our Heavenly Father with trust, appreciation, and the awareness of His goodness and generosity. We must give thanks in times of both blessing and difficulty as we choose to believe that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). Whether with smiles or tears, the expression of gratitude empowers our personally relating to our Heavenly Father in a manner that glorifies and pleases Him. Thereby our hearts are blessed with a vast measure of fulfillment found only in relationship with God. It is indeed a good thing to give thanks unto our Lord.
A final thought: note the connection suggested by the Psalmist regarding thanksgiving and personal fellowship with God:
"Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name: the upright shall dwell in Thy presence" (Psalm 140:13).
Clearly, gratitude has much to do with our experience of the living and the personal reality of our existence. We draw near in heart to our great Benefactor when we thank Him with genuine and conscious expressions of appreciation. His presence becomes a more present awareness in our hearts and minds. This is most surely a good thing, because…
"In Thy presence is fullness of joy. At Thy right hand, there are pleasures forevermore."
Weekly Memory Verse
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
(I John 1:3)
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