Summary: Our expressions of gratitude depend on our level of maturity.
1. All Circumstances
The story is told of an only survivor of a wreck who was thrown on an uninhabited island. After a while he managed to build himself a hut, in which he placed the little all that he had saved from the ship. He prayed to God for deliverance and anxiously scanned the horizon each day to hail any passing ship. One day on returning from a hunt for food, he was horrified to find his hut in flames. All he had was going up in smoke! The worst had happened, it appeared. But, the things that seemed to have happened for the worst were in reality for the best. To the man’s limited vision it was the worst. To God’s infinite wisdom it was the best, for which he had prayed. The next day a ship arrived.
The man asked, how did you know I was here? "We saw your smoke signal," the captain said.
2. In light of the above story the man could have been grateful for several things:
a. He survived the shipwreck
b. He had supplies
c. He had enough skill to build a shelter
d. He could hunt
e. He had a measure of health
f. However, he panicked with the fire – he couldn’t see everything
3. Philippians 4.4-7
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
4. Ephesians 5.15, 20
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,. . . 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5. Levels of Gratitude Depending on our Level of Maturity
I. Level #1 – The Good Level
A. We find many things for which we give thanks without thinking:
1. New day of life – Psalm 118.24
2. Health – grateful for the little things when we are without
3. The privilege of being part of God’s family
4. Strength for the day
B. We treat our Gratitude as a Sacrifice – Hebrews 13.15
continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name”
1. Good of sacrifice can only happen with the right heart
2. Bad of sacrifice – grudgingly; out of obligation; selfishly
3. 10 Lepers – Luke 17.11-19
C. Yet, we still find reasons to complain:
1. Bad weather
2. Inconsiderate children/spouse
3. Insensitive church members/leaders
4. Overly sensitive church member/leaders
5. Much like the children of Israel
• Water – Exodus 15.24
• Food (manna) – Exodus 16.2-3
• Meat to eat/Quail – Numbers 11
• Leadership of Moses (wanting to return to Egypt) – Numbers 14
D. Beware – Philippians 2.14-16
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. 2 Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down.
II. Level #2 – The Better Level –
1 Thessalonians 5.18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
A. We Can Find Something for Which We are Thankful
1. Just like the man in the shipwreck story – things for which we can be thankful
2. We Know – Romans 8.28
3. Joseph in Egypt
B. Generally Only Goes so Far – the Bad Can’t be Too Bad or for Too Long
III. Level #3 – The Best Level
A. Thankful for EVERYTHING – Ephesians 5.18b, 20
Be filled with the Spirit . . . giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
B. A Different kind of Attitude – Brings Unequalled Joy
1. “Thank You, God. This is the thing You’re using in my life. You’ve allowed it because You love me, and I trust You. Thank You, God, even for this!”