A four-year old boy was invited to give thanks for the evening dinner. He prayed with gusto, thanking God for friends, family, and each item on the menu: the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, potatoes and cranberry sauce. But then there was a long pause. Finally, the boy looked to his mother and asked, “If I thank God for the broccoli, won’t He know that I’m lying?”
It’s a cute illustration, but it highlights an important point. If we are going to practice thankfulness, we are going to have to be honest about it.
You know… your mom used to drive this into you… possibly when you were four:
“If you can’t say anything good about a person, then don’t say anything at all!”
Remember that? It sounds almost laughable in today’s world though, doesn’t it? I mean, consider the world’s politicians… watch any election debate… or the world of sales and advertising… or anything involving “fine print”… People say or treat others in some pretty nasty ways in this world!
Paul speaks of “the ways of this world… the ruler of the kingdom of the air… the spirit who is now at work” (Eph. 2:2). “The god of this age,” he writes, “has blinded the minds of unbelievers…” (2 Cor. 4:4). This sour, selfish worldly spirit seeks to blind believers also, to make cynics of us all, dampening or destroying our testimony.
But our mission is to fight against this. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10).
Do? Do where? Do when? – In heaven? Heaven needs no testimony to goodness – least of all from us, the only created entities there who were once rebels! — Do here. Do now, of course!
And, well, what does this “doing” look like? Could it sometimes look like “a spirit of thankfulness?” — of looking for the good instead of the gossip? Have we any example to follow in this? Well yes indeed, we have Christ. All honest debate which leads to Truth ends with Christ.
Thankfulness brings these truths into the light. As Pastor Steve reminded us this Sunday past*, the grateful heart sees clearly the abundance of our blessings, perceives that life with God is indeed whole and healthy, and directs us into that which is eternally meaningful.
Do not fall into the cynicism of society, live your life in honest and truthful relationship with God and praise Him sincerely with that life!
“Give thanks with a grateful heart.”
*Link here and look under Media for the full message audio.