Summary: This message focuses on our choosing to give thanks with a grateful heart.
The Choice To Give Thanks
We have completed our Thanksgiving celebration and are preparing for Christmas. Although Thanksgiving is a national holiday, not everyone in the United States celebrate it. Those who choose to celebrate it do so by choice and that brings me to the title of my message this morning: “The Choice To Give Thanks.” We all recognize that this is the season for being thankful and this morning I want to focus our attention on our choice to give thanks to God.
This season of giving thanks is a time when we come together with family and friends to reflect on and give thanks for the blessings that God has given us. Even though some of us choose to give thanks during this season there are others who may choose not to for whatever reason. For some this season does not bring about thanksgiving, but a sense of depression and a sense of loss. They have everything that they could want but they are not happy. There are also those who do not celebrate this time of year because for them it is not special, just another day to survive. There are people who have much more material things than we do and yet they do not see the need to give thanks. This morning I hope we walk away understanding that when we give thanks it is because we have made the choice to do it. Please turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
I. Giving Thanks With A Grateful Heart
During our praise and worship time we sometime sing a song that says “Give thanks with a grateful heart…” This song talks about a grateful heart and the thanks that come forth through a heart that is grateful. These are the hearts that are appreciative for what was done for them. You see, we give thanks a lot without being grateful for the act that was bestowed upon us. Let me give you an example. Someone does something for you and then they have to ask you to say “thank you”. Now the person repeats the “thank you” because they forgot to tell you. The fact that they originally forgot to say thank you can give you some insight into their gratefulness. I am not saying this is an absolute, but the next time you do it or it happens to you think about what you have heard here today. There are many times when during our praise and worship you are asked to either raise or clap your hands as you give praise. Although we all understand this request, in truth the request should never have to be made. When you’re doing what you feel and with an attitude of appreciation, you do it on your own. You’re not worrying about who else is doing it; you are totally focused on your own praise. So you will not have to wait to be told to clap or raise your hands, you do so as you feel the Spirit swell up within you.
We often give thanks with a lot of things other than with a heart of gratefulness. We will give thanks with regret when someone does something for us and we are forced to accept it. We will give thanks with hatred as we praise God with our mouths for the blessings someone else received that we actually hate that they got. We will give thanks with jealousy as others testify of what is happening in their lives and to be a part of the crowd we clap and celebrate with them. These are examples of when we give thanks for what is happening in other people lives, but what about our own personal thanks? Have you ever given thanks by obligations? This is when we give thanks because we have to – like giving thanks for your food after you started eating because someone asked if you blessed your food. Have you ever given thanks with tiredness? For example, you get ready to go to bed and you want to say a prayer and you give thanks for the day through the tiredness because it is what is expected of a good Christian? For all the thanks that we give, it is the thanks given with a grateful heart that makes the difference and which is very pleasing to God.
Giving thanks with a grateful heart is like jumping up and down when you get the present you always wanted. You are so grateful that sometimes tears of joy begin to flow freely. You were not planning to cry, but you could not stop it once it started. Giving thanks with a grateful heart is a choice – you choose the way and manner in which you give thanks. So consider 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It states “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”