Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’”
Each November I desire to be more purposeful in my gratefulness. Obviously the Thanksgiving holiday spurs me into this manner of thinking; in fact, if it weren't for the holiday, I would likely continue on in my day to day and take most things for granted.
This year I posted a photo (on most days) to Instagram and added:
#thankful. In order to not become futile in my thoughts nor darkened in my heart.
My thankful photos included my children, our beautiful first snow, my parents and milestones. The point was to document everyday things that I was thankful for in order to keep myself from spiraling into a depraved life that stems from ungratefulness.
One might argue that simply not being thankful won't lead to a sinful spiral, but the above psalm and Romans 1 would indicate otherwise. Preceding the Romans list of sinful behaviors is the simple truth:
although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.
All people know of God because He has shown Himself clearly through creation. Because of this, all people are also without excuse. If anyone denies God, claims the world was created by some crazy chance, credits things to "luck" or the "universe", then they are practicing futile thoughts and foolishness in their darkened hearts.
There have been some very scandalous statements made by people denying God.
- Gloria Steinem said, "By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God."
- In the world of science, it is commonplace to hear things such as: "You cannot be religious and be a scientist at the same time." (Krueger)
- And this sad example of futile thinking: “I think that when you consider the beauty of the world and you wonder how it came to be what it is, you are naturally overwhelmed with a feeling of awe, a feeling of admiration and you almost feel a desire to worship something. I feel this, I recognise that other scientists such as Carl Sagan feel this, Einstein felt it. We, all of us, share a kind of religious reverence for the beauties of the universe, for the complexity of life. For the sheer magnitude of the cosmos, the sheer magnitude of geological time. And it’s tempting to translate that feeling of awe and worship into a desire to worship some particular thing, a person, an agent. You want to attribute it to a maker, to a creator. What science has now achieved is an emancipation from that impulse to attribute these things to a creator. (Dawkins)
Explaining away the clear truth of God through haughty, arrogant, smarter-than-God ideas is the direct result of unthankful hearts. When we live life independent from God, we begin attributing His glories to ourselves or other created things. We get a raise at work...clearly that's because we're so good at what we do. We win a prize...aren't we lucky? We live in a big house, make a lot of money...we are the wise investors.
Even beyond these examples, Christians can easily fall into the trap of self-righteousness, independence from God. Teaching a Bible study lesson well, singing a glorious solo in church, keeping a tidy and well-run home...we can do all sorts of things that bring about the temptation to think we have accomplished much in our abilities. When our minds travel down this path, who else is to thank except ourselves?
Thankfulness unto God is the crux of depending on Him. When we realize that everything is from Him, what other response except thankfulness is there?
May we guard our hearts and minds from foolishness and futility by simply being thankful. Not just in November...always. Romans 1: 16-17 emphasizes:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
It is the righteousness of God, not our own good deeds or self-righteousness, for which we must give thanks daily. May we grow more and more in dependence upon Him in the coming year.