When one is “poor in spirit”—the first of Jesus’ beatitudes (Matt. 5:3)—it will follow that they will be thankful to a loving Creator who has forgiven their sins (Psa. 51:17). The prayer of the forgiven must naturally involve thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6). One pardoned of earthly crimes and released from a life of imprisonment will usually be very thankful—how much more a Christian released from the law of sin and death to serve the risen Savior (Rom. 8:2)?
The disobedient and rebellious are characterized by arrogant pride—thus unthankful. The Romans, who had ceased to retain God in their knowledge, were not thankful, and rebuked for it (Rom. 1:21). They were neither thankful for a compassionate Father, nor were they willing to acknowledge Him in glorious praise. When one ceases to retain God in their knowledge, he/she enters into a very dark place where life cannot and will not satisfy. Selfishness will ultimately leave them empty and alone in a life with no meaning. Have you ever observed how the selfish and miserly never seem to look happy? They may strain to smile or try to occasionally muster an energetic affirmation, but at rest they naturally look sad. The rich life in Christ is led by love which enriches by and through giving. God so loved that He gave of Himself, His “only begotten son” (John 3:16), the divine pattern of perfectly exemplified selfless love. It is selfless love that all are called to in Christ Jesus (I Cor. 13). Agape love is the ultimate and truly unattainable goal for a Christian. The only one to achieve such in the world was the Savior, Jesus the Lord.
In the godless society forming around us today, it is not hard to see sad people lost yet offering a better way. Those individuals can never find a thing to commend nor a time to say a simple thank you. Their darkness leaves them in a state of constant railing against something. This is not the picture of a Christian, and the contrast between Christ and the world should be easily seen. Those who place their faith in government will always be disappointed. Individuals who deny God believe that they must fix the world. They are doomed to a life of disappointment and the sadness of disbelief. So why do so many seem to follow such hopeless people? It’s a good question and one not easily answered. The apostle Paul observed: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19). If your eyes are not on the Hope of Glory, then even a mere brush with Christ isn’t going to bring satisfaction. The hope of Christianity is not bound by the finites of this universe, but rather expanded to the eternal hope of overcoming it. Laying hold on the promise of a heavenly home is hope that lifts one from darkness of the mundane to hope of the sublime.
Leaders of yore asked Americans to take this time each year and be thankful to God for His blessings. President Abraham Lincoln even declared a time of thanksgiving amidst a most uncivil war. In that dark time he could see God’s blessings on this land of the free. Christians should lead the way in Thanksgiving. Thankful for remission of sin through the Savior and Redeemer. Likewise the Christian should lead in thanksgiving for “liberty in law” enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Are you thankful, truly thankful? If not, you’re likely having heart trouble, that is spiritual heart trouble.
Count your blessings. It may very well surprise you what the Lord has done. When one evaluates what God has given, then it should help to give liberally to His cause in heartfelt thanksgiving.