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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Give thanks to Him

For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Rom 1:21).
Listed at the very beginning of the chain of problems that Paul attributes to mankind in Romans 1 is this accusation: "They did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him." Ingratitude, it seems, is an epidemic in the world.

What is gratitude? The dictionary defines it as a warm or deep appreciation of kindness or benefits received. The first thing, then, that needs to be acknowledged for gratitude to occur is the fact that someone else has conferred kindness or benefits. Gratitude, then, at its core, is unself-centered. (Yeah, yeah, I just made that word up, but tell me if you don't know what I mean.) Gratitude also carries with it "appreciation". What is that? Well, the dictionary says that "appreciate" means "to be grateful". Okay, enough with the circular references. What does it really mean? It is, in fact, a "business" term. It means to prize, to value, to realize the worth of something. You know, like when a house appreciates as opposed to depreciates. There, perhaps now you can see the idea. Gratitude, then, occurs when we recognize that someone outside of ourselves has given us something that we value.

What is the block to gratitude? Why is ingratitude a problem? Well, if the most common mode of humans is "self-centered", then thankfulness would fly in the face of our normal sense of things. We are the most important, and now we're saying that someone else has given us something that we value. So we do one of two things. Either, we fail to admit that someone else provided it, or we devalue what we are given.

So test yourself. Do you value the things you receive from others? Do you see worth in what God gives you? Do you prize the blessings as well as the tough times God provides? Do you honor God for who He is? You see, that's where thankfulness begins -- outside of self. And, oh, by the way, the alternative to gratitude, according to Paul, is futile thinking and foolish hearts. Something to think about on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

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