The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Lord, make us truly thankful." Those who offer this sincere request recognize our human tendency to forget or ignore God's goodness and our proper response of offering gratitude.
"Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good" (Psalm 118:1).
How does God "make us truly thankful?" Interestingly, the most direct answer is that He does not. A "made" thanksgiving would be as meaningless to Him as our computer thanking us for punching certain keys, or properly using a program. We would know that such gratitude originated not in personal devotion, but in a programmed code. This would mean nothing to both the One thanked, or to the one giving thanks.
I mean this as no disrespect toward anyone who prays, "Lord, make us truly thankful." I've prayed it myself. However, we sometimes need to still ourselves and ponder things we say and prayers we pray. We certainly require our Lord's working in our hearts to motivate and empower both the attitude and expression of thanksgiving. At the end of the day, however, genuine gratitude must be our freely chosen response to God in order to fulfill the Biblical definition of authentic appreciation.
"Thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks unto Thee, O LORD" (II Samuel 22:49-50).
Note David's determination to give thanks, and also the reason for it. Truth led to gratitude, namely, David knew that God had done something for him. He had "delivered him from the violent man." David made a choice to offer gratitude - "I will" - based on something he realized and believed. This is how God works in us to motivate gratitude. He reveals to our hearts and minds the wonder of His gracious working on our behalf. He also bears witness by His Word, His Spirit, and His church that He is the giver of "every good gift and every perfect gift" (James 1:17). We then have the choice to offer thanksgiving, or not. The ball is really in our court. God has done and is doing His part, both by giving and by letting us know He is the giver. Thus, truth results in thanksgiving, truth revealed and truth realized.
This constitutes the giving of thanks as real to God and real to us. We are utterly dependent on Him. But we play a very real role in our freely chose devotion, as motivated, led, and enabled by the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul taught, we "work out" that which God "works in" (Philippians 2:12-13). Thus, every time we sincerely give thanks to our Heavenly Father, He hears something from our hearts that does not exist until we realize some aspect of His goodness, and then determine, like the one leper among the ten cleansed, that we cannot fail to gratefully pour out the vial of our thankful hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 17:12-19).
A young man once asked me, "How can I be more thankful?" I responded, "The better question is how can we be more thankful. Because I feel what you feel." The young man and I pondered together the Scriptural declaration of God as the provider of "life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25). We then testified of specific bestowals of such grace in our own lives. Before long, we had bowed hearts and heads together. Biblical truth led us to thanksgiving, along with the realization of God's personal kindness bestowed upon us. Perhaps some would say that God made us truly thankful. I won't argue that point. However, He did it by His gifts, and then His revelation to our hearts that He is the giver. This provided the opportunity to say "Thank You" of our own freely determined volition. He gets all the glory, of course. But He also accounts our offering as our offering, freely given and powerfully meaningful in His heart and in ours. Perhaps this is one aspect of what Solomon meant when he declared…
"The prayer of the upright is His delight."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."