Summary: I’ve never thought of God as being "grateful" for me, but the intriguing thing is - He is grateful, but only when we meet certain expectations. What are they?
One soldier stationed on an island of the Philippines during WW II told this story: “Although the region was secure, sometimes the enemy tried to infiltrate our food storage area. One such adversary, dressed in GI clothing, once worked himself into the noontime chow line. Our camp cook spotted him, reached under the serving table for his pistol and yelled for the MPs who were patrolling the area.
After it was all over, we asked the cook how he knew the man was an enemy soldier. "I figured it wasn’t one of you guys, he said, "’cause he was coming back for seconds."
APPLY: That enemy soldier stood out because he was a thankful person. Likewise, God tells us that we should stand out as thankful people.
Heb 13:15 Through Jesus, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise...
Eph 5:20 always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Col 3:17 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.
1Th 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
THEREFORE as a Christian, thankfulness should be so much a part of our lives that we should stand out. So, I guess it should come as no surprise to discover that Jesus was thankful. Reread Matthew 25:34-40.
But, you know, I’ve never thought of God as being thankful before. I’ve never heard a sermon telling me about how thankful God was. Now why would that be?
I. Actually, there’s a VERY GOOD reason why:
Too many people think God ought to be grateful to them.
FOR EXAMPLE: A lot of people think that God owes them salvation. They’ve been pretty good. Sure, they’ve done bad things, but only when they had to, or when they were weak, or (well) the other guy did worse. But they’ve done a number of good deeds. Surely they deserve salvation. They view it as kind of a point system. They’ve earned enough points to redeem their gift.
And yet Eph 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no-one can boast.
GOD DOESN’T OWE US SALVATION – we can’t do enough. Our sin makes even our good deeds ugly.
ILLUS: I have here a mug I drank chocolate milk out of last night. Now I haven’t had a chance to clean it out, so as you can see it looks a bit grungy. I also have an unopened can of Pepsi (open it and begin to pour it into the mug). The Pepsi is absolutely clean and cold and refreshing. Who would like to take a drink??? Why not? Ah! Because it has been poured into unclean vessel. That’s how it is when we offer our "clean" deeds to God without first having Him cleanse your heart and soul. However clean the liquid, the vessel is still unacceptable.
Even the religious church goer can get opinion that they are doing God a favor. Somehow they get the opinion that God ought to be thankful for what they do. That’s what the Pharisees did. This type of person plays the game. They are faithful in attending church, praying, working, singing. BUT IT’S ALL TO EARN BROWNIE POINTS so the end they can say to God: You owe us.
ILLUS: When I was a young boy, I had a paper route. I remember stopping at one trailer and the person there gave me my first tip of a quarter. I must not have ever received a tip before, because I got it into my mind that somehow I was owed that tip. So I dutifully told the next paper customer that I expected a tip. You can imagine how they reacted.
II. AND SO (because people too often believe God should be grateful for them) you’re not likely to hear many sermons about God being thankful to us. It just feeds the wrong motivation.
But God is grateful. Though He is our master and owes us nothing, God can be thankful. He wants to reward us when we do that which pleases Him because He wants to show us gratefulness.
· Heb 6:10 "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them."
· Luke 6:35 "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High…"
· Pr 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.