PROVING OUR GRATITUDE

 Dr. Tom Berry

It is remarkable how many people are unaware of the benefits they receive from God.  Jesus pointed out that the heavenly Father "Makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and send rain on the just and the unjust."  Matthew 5:45.  If we tried to count all the benefits mankind enjoys from the sun and the rain we would be counting a long time.  Usually, it is only after entering into a relationship with the heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ that we become aware of the blessings that He showers upon us.  It is also at this point that we are hit with the thoughts like "How can I pay God back?" or "How can I prove my gratitude?"

One of the Bible songwriters raised these questions and also gave his answers:  "What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?  I will take up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people. . .I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD>"  Psalm 116:12, 13, 17.

WHAT SHALL I RENDER UNTO THE LORD FOR ALL HIS BENEFITS TOWARD ME

In these words the psalmist reveals an "attitude of gratitude."  This is certainly different from the griping, disgruntled and ungrateful attitude displayed by the average person today.  As the psalmist meditated on his benefits from God he was impressed that it would be impossible to repay God for these blessings but he could at least be thankful.

"...In everything give thanks. . ." (1st Thessalonians 5:18.) wrote the Apostle Paul and he followed his own advice.  He praised God for physical, material and spiritual blessings and everything else, but he went further.

Paul Praised God When He Was Persecuted.
He and Silas were arrested, beaten, and placed in stocks in maximum security at Philippi.  "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,..."  (Acts 16:25, 26._  No wonder God sent an earthquake to throw open the doors.

Paul Praised God When He Was Hungry.
Yes, the greatest Christian of history experienced hunger.  But he could write, "...For I have learned in whatever state I am to be content:  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.   Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:11- 13. 

Paul Praised God When He Bore Affliction. 
Paul had one affliction that was so physically irritating that he called it a "thorn in the flesh."  Paul asked Christ to remove this affliction three times, but found out that Christ had a reason to not take it away---to show Paul "My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness."  Consequently, Paul exulted, "...Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Paul Rejoiced In Seeing People Saved.
He wrote to his new converts in Thessalonica, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy."  (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20).

Paul Could Look At The Grave And Rejoice In Ultimate Victory Over Death.
"So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:  "Death is swallow up in victory."  "O Death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?"  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin in the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  (1st Corinthians 15:54-57)

We have the key to unlocking the mysteries of the Christian life in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  Even the bad things are producing eternal good results in the believer.  When we know this we can be thankful for all things.

i WILL TAKE THE CUP OF SALVATION

The psalmist is saying in effect, "I'll show my gratitude to God by taking something else."  At first that seems a little strange.  After we think about it the psalmist is saying, "After I have enjoyed all these other benefits from God I'm going to receive the gift which cost God the most."

Every material and physical gift man receives from God costs God relatively little in proportion to His great riches and power.  He was able to create worlds with His spoken word.  Yet, the gift of salvation cost God nothing less than the sacrifice of His own Son.  "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  (2nd Corinthians 5:21)  The accumulated sin of the human race was placed on Jesus and He experienced the eternal punishment for our sin as our substitute.  This was the price God paid to make salvation available to the human family.

The psalmist says, "The best way I can show my gratitude to God is to take God's gift of salvation."  To accept God's material and physical blessings and reject His gift of salvation is an insult to God.  "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord..." and "...the plowing of the wicked (is) sin."  Proverbs 15:8 and 21:4).  Here is a lost man offering a sacrifice to thank God for material and physical blessing and going out to his field to plow in anticipation of God's blessings of sunshine and rain.  God considers it abomination and sin.  The real test of our gratitude for God's material and physical blessings are what we do with God's gift of salvation purchased for us by the sacrifice of His Son on Calvary.  Until we receive Christ as Savior we are taking God's physical and material blessings while living in rejection of the one gift that cost Him the most and the one gift He most wants us to receive.

i WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD

P. W. Philpot was out on the street one cold January evening in Canada.  A woman sang the hymn, "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" and she added to each verse, "O Calvary! Dark Calvary! Speak to some heart from Calvary."  As P. W. Philpot listened and watched, Calvary became real.  He went home and knelt beside his bed and prayed for the first time, "My heavenly Father..."  When we take the cup of salvation God becomes our Father and we become His child.  We begin to realize that every blessing is a loving gift from the hand of our loving heavenly Father and gratitude begins to flow from our heart.

I WILL PAY MY VOWS UNTO THE LORD NOW IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL HIS PEOPLE

It follows that a truly saved person will be unashamed of his faith in and love for Christ.  He will openly confess Christ before man, follow Christ in believer's baptism; become identified with the people of Christ and begin to serve Christ with his time and talents.

After a round of drinks some baseball players of the Chicago National League Club were idly sitting on a curb.  A Christian group gathered across the street and began to sing hymns.  One of the players remembered how his mother sang those hymns to him as a child and told him of Jesus.  He began to sob.  One of the Christians stepped across the street and asked him, "Wont you come with me to the mission?"  He stood and said to his teammates, "I'm through, boys.  I'm going to Jesus Christ."  Some of them mocked and some remained silent.  That day Billy Sunday came to Christ.   The next day he went to the club house expecting mockery, but to his surprise every player on the team came around to shake his hand.  Before long he was serving God by working with young men.  Later he became the assistant of the great evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman, and then went on to become a flaming evangelist who witnessed a million professions of faith in Christ.

Do you really want to show your gratitude to God"  Psalm 116 shows you how!

    Copyright 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.