How to Show God Thanks
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How to Show God Thanks
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
We are finishing out thanksgiving and we spent the month thinking of all the things we are thankful for. I wonder though whether we really give thanks to the one from who our blessings come from. Sure, we say that we thank God for this and that and we thank him in our prayers and with our mouths and that is all nice and dandy but I think there is a difference between saying thank you and showing thank you. So, the question then becomes, how do we show thanks to God?
For starters it is probably important to remember all the things that we should be thankful for. In Deuteronomy 8:7-18, Moses reminds the Israelites of the promise that God has for them and of the land that he promises. It is a good land that will provide them plenty of food and water plus precious metals. They are told that they will lack nothing. Moses tells them that when they have eaten enough and are satisfied, they must not forget to praise the Lord for he is the one who gave them their satisfaction. They are warned not to forget the Lord by being careful to follow his commands and laws. The reason they must not forget is because it is easy for them to be satisfied and just settle down with all of their abundance in riches, flocks, and food that they can become proud and forget all that they had to go through to get to this point and forget what the Lord has done for them. They can become so spoiled that they forget to show thanks to the Lord and begin to break his laws. Moses warned them of this and this was exactly what eventually happened and because of that we have a time of ups and downs and judges chosen to put things back in place and in perspective.
Luke 17:11-19 tells us a story about 10 men being healed of leprosy. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee. He was entering into a village and there were 10 men with leprosy shouting out for him to heal them. Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests as the law instructed that they should do. As they left, they were all healed and made clean. However, there was only one man who when he saw that he was healed, he went back to Jesus praising God in a loud voice. He then threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He did more than just saying thank you. He showed his thankfulness through action. The scripture also mentions that this man was a Samaritan. God once again uses a Samaritan to make a point about the people of Israel and to cut them at their hearts. A Samaritan was an outsider and the Jews did not mix with them. The Jews thought of themselves better than the Samaritans. However, once again a Samaritan is the one who shows thanksgiving and praise where it is due. It is therefore possible that the other 9 men were Jews. Jesus even makes a point of this in his response that ten men were cleansed but only this foreigner returns to give praise.
One must wonder whether these 9 men were actually thankful that they were healed. In some cases, I am sure that they were thankful but it seems that they took it al for granted. They received their healing and they got what they were seeking and they just went on with their lives. They forgot to show thanks for the one who made them well. I wonder how often we ourselves forget to show God thankfulness for the things he has given us. It is easy to sometimes receive and yet not acknowledge the one who gave. When we do that, we may not realize that we are actually hurting the one who gave to us. This is something that I myself have been guilty of as well by not giving thanks in a timely enough manner. There have been times when I have received something from a friend or family member and had every intention in giving my thanks and gratitude to them yet I was too slow in doing so that I ended up hurting the person who gave to me. We should never get ourselves to the point to wait so long that we must couple our thankfulness along with an apology. However, that is exactly what I had to do. This is also what these other 9 men would have had to do if they ever realized that they forgot to give thanks to the one who healed them. However, we are not given any indication that this ever happened.
The question though is how can we keep ourselves in a mindset to show thankfulness when it is due. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 gives us a good clue to that answer. Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will reap generously. By giving to others we can remain in a mindset of thankfulness. We give because God has given us abundantly. In fact, this passage tells us that by giving to others who are in need we are actually showing thanksgiving to the Lord. We are being thankful with our blessings and then sharing them with those in need. Also, by doing this, others will praise God for our obedience in giving.
These past few weeks my manager has experienced on two occasions people giving generously to him. These were complete strangers to him yet he was blessed by them. The first time was at a Costco. He was at the checkout line with his kids and then realized he left his wallet in the truck which was at the far end of the parking lot. He was about to just leave everything and then have to shop all over again but the lady behind him went ahead and paid his bill. He asked her for her contact info so that he could reimburse her and she refused and told him to just pay it forward. If that was not enough, he went to a McDonalds on the weekend to get breakfast for his family and when he got to the window, he was told that the person ahead of him paid for his food. Again, a complete stranger gave him this blessing. Someone, was giving thanks to God by giving when they felt led to give.
I don’t know if my manager has understood this gift he has been given, but even if he doesn’t, I believe that it was still worth the effort of these random strangers because if they had not done so I would not be able to also learn from this and share this story with you today. When we show God thanks our thankfulness can often bless those around us. This advent season it is my hope and prayer for you that you remember to show thanks to God as we anticipate the celebration of his coming and as we anticipate his return. Show thanks to him today for what he has given.