I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:4)
Here are two of the most forgotten words in the English language: “Thank You!” These words should be applied to both our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationships with each other.
So let me ask you right now: When was the last time you gratefully, wholeheartedly said those two words to God . . . and to others?
Here is an idea to keep in mind that should help you and I strengthen our commitment to using these two forgotten words. When was the last time someone said “Thank you” to you for something you did? How did it make you feel? First, their words let you know you were appreciated. Second, didn’t you feel affirmed in the deep place, knowing that the one who was thanking you was acknowledging your importance in their life?
Sadly, we live in a cultural context of entitlement, a mindset that no longer sees much need of thanksgiving. After all, if you are “entitled” to something, there is no need to be thankful when you get it. When this sense of entitlement rises to the level of God and His gift of eternal life, it becomes the ultimate blasphemy.
Look at it this way: if you think you have earned God’s favor and merited your way into eternal life, there is no one to thank but yourself. As Paul observed in his epistle to the Romans, “To the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation” (Romans 4:4 NET). In other words, if you believe that you earned eternal life by “living a good life,” then eternal life is not a gift; God is obliged to repay your good works with eternal life. But when you see everything—including eternal life—as a gift from God’s gracious hand, gratitude begins to seize you and the two words “Thank you” begin to flow through you.
When you think about everything in your life right now, is there anything you have that you have not been given? Paul asked the Christians at Corinth, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Paul’s rhetorical question had been answered years before by John the Baptist, who said, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27 ESV). And even when you “earned” something by the sweat of your brow, that strength and skill to labor is a gift from God, who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways (Daniel 5:23).
Cicero once said, “A thankful heart is . . . the parent of all other virtues.” In other words, a thankful heart is the key that unlocks the door leading to living a life that truly matters.
Let me close with two final thoughts. First, is there anyone in your life right now who could benefit by hearing those two words—“Thank you!”—from you today? Second, what should you be thanking God for right now? The more you say “Thank you,” the more you will become thankful, and that is a very attractive quality—both to God and to all those He places in your life.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!