Summary: This message focuses on how we choose to give thanks to God and the attitude in which we do it.
What Will It Take?
What Will It Take For Me To Sincerely Give God Thanks?
We have just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday. This holiday is about taking time to reflect on the blessings that we have received and for remembering things that we are truly thankful for. It is not a religious holiday per se, but received as a day for everyone regardless of their culture, and/or religious backgrounds can celebrate. However, for us, it has a special meaning as we have a whole lot to be thankful for as Christians.
This morning I am starting a short series to close out 2011. This series is titled “What Will It Take….?” and I will add different actions each week to conclude the question. As we are closing out this year, I want to speak to us as it relates to our personal relationship with God. For this reason, I will be making several assumptions. The first assumption is that we believe in God and have some type of relationship with Him. The second assumption is that we know and trust God. Now you may be wondering if the first and second assumptions are the same and the short answer is no. You can believe in God without knowing and trusting Him. James speaks to this when he said in James 2:19 “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” The demons believe in God and the relationship that they have with Him is not a very good one to say the least. So believing in God and having a relationship with Him is one thing, but knowing and trusting Him is something else altogether because it implies an intimacy within the relationship. With these two assumptions made, I want you to consider this morning “What it will take for us to give God thanks with a sincere and grateful heart?”
Our Scriptural references this morning will come from Ephesians 5:20 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Ephesians 5:20 states “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” I want you to focus on two words, “always” and “all”. The Greek word for always in this verse means “all the time and for evermore.” The word “all” is very inclusive to include everything and every situation. From this the idea is presented that we should always be in a state of mind of thanksgiving, especially as it relates to our giving thanks to God in every situation and/or circumstance.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Paul essentially says the same thing he said to the Church at Ephesus but he adds an additional statement. He says that it is God's will that we should always be in a mindset of giving thanks in Christ Jesus. This mindset should be constant, but is it often not that way in our Christian walk. What will it take for all of us to give God thanks with a sincere heart?
I. False Thanksgiving
Before I go further, I want to clarify what I believe is sincere thanks versus the false thanks that we sometimes give to God. To do this I want to take you back down memory lane (which for some of us could be just yesterday.) When I was younger I had two older brothers and two younger sisters living in our house. As you would expect, there were times when we would get on each others’ nerves, especially me and my brother Delrick. My father once told me that every time he turned around Delrick and I were fighting (I do not remember it but I will assume that I was victorious even though he was older! Delrick as you read this I know you will have a different opinion and/or memory.) Anyway, there were times when I would have to apologize for doing something to one of my siblings. Now notice I said that I would have to apologize. These apologies were not given because I was sorry, hurt and ashamed of what I did; they were given because I had to and I did not want to experience the results of not giving it after I was told to apologize. In a perfect world I would have recognized my fault and came to the realization that I needed to apologize without being told to, but I did not live in a perfect world and I needed help. So as you would expect, I said the words as I was directed with no sincerity, feeling or love behind them. As a matter of fact, even as I was apologizing I was probably planning my next attack which would probably land me on the corporal punishment side of an apology. The way I would give those apologies is the same way we oftentimes give God thanks. We give thanks because someone told us to. Some one tells us to stand up and give God praise and we do it because we do not want to be that person still sitting while everyone else is up and praising God. We also give God thanks because we have been taught to give it at certain times. We give it because that is what is supposed to happen in certain situations. This is not the thanks giving that Paul wrote about or what God expects from us. The giving of thanks that God expects from us is one that comes from a sincere heart and is consistent.