The Oxford English Dictionary says of gratitude, ‘The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness’.
It is commonplace in many homes at this time of the year for children to write their thank-you letters to family and friends for the recent gifts received. It is courteous to show gratitude for the generosity of those who think kindly of us and give us an acceptable gift out of love and friendship.
Material value of the gift should not necessarily flavour the receiver’s thoughts about the giver, but rather that someone had expressed their thoughtful feelings towards us, and that for this we are most thankful.
Paul wrote to Timothy and said that in the last days, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” (2 Timothy 3:2) There are some ugly characteristics in that list of behaviour, selfish to the core with never a kind thought to anyone else. Unfortunately, this is the day that we are living in, so we should be more grateful for those who wear their heart on their sleeve and express their love in kind ways.
Being thankful and appreciative is not restricted to a particular season but should be daily seen as part of the makeup of our life.
I am so grateful that back in 1957 a man was prepared to cycle fifteen miles from Luton to the RAF station at Henlow, Bedfordshire, to come to Billet 454 and tell us airmen about the Bible, about the Son of God who came to bring salvation to sinners such as us. That man saw eight out of eighteen men that lived in that billet converted to Christ. Some of those men (including me) saw their wife saved too. That preacher’s name was Gordon Brind and he is in Heaven now. Down through the years I have thanked the Lord many times for Gordon’s selflessness and love for sinners, and failingly tried to emulate him.
Anyone that reads my column ‘Light Reflections’ in The Light newspaper will observe that every article is 454 words long, a weekly acknowledgement of what took place in Billet 454. Praise God!
George Hodge assured me that he had not edited one word out of the articles I send him, even though my grammar is not right on some occasions. To do this for me for 21 years deserves a public mention of gratitude to him for this good thing.
Looking in the Bible at the term ‘good thing’ I discovered that the first mention is in Deuteronomy 26:11 and says, “And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house” God is good and His character is to give, He gave His only begotten Son to die for us, that is the extent of His giving, there is nothing greater than this. When people receive Him as their Saviour their house and family becomes a joyous place to be. James 1:17 reads, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” There is no inconsistency with God, He is reliably good, never changing, One to whom we can trust for our souls salvation.
In John ch.9 we read of a man that was born blind. I will pause there to ask the question, “Do we ever thank the Lord for the precious gift of sight, and other faculties that He has given us?” The poor man that John tells us about had never been able to see, he had not lost his sight because of disease. He did not know colours or distances because he had never been able to see anything at all, he lived in permanent darkness. How blessed it must have been for him when Jesus sent him to the Pool of Siloam to wash the clay from his eyes that He had put on them. The man went, he washed and came back seeing. As that man stooped to wash his sight came, and the first thing he saw was his own face. He saw himself as he really was. That is what happens when we do what God tells us to do, we see things as God sees them and we see ourselves as we really are. He got his precious sight and wended his way home and the neighbours first saw the change in him, but some could not believe that Jesus had done this miracle. His parents told the Jews, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.” The religionists excommunicated him, but “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” That man showed his gratitude to the Saviour in that act of worship, and there are millions of people since that have done the same.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
What would Paul himself thank the Lord for? Top of his list would be his life changing experience on the road to Damascus, and then the many people who he led to Christ when he preached the gospel in so many places. Each of the Apostles would have cause to thank the Lord for, even being counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.
If we could ask William Carey what he continually thanked the Lord for, would it be for the ability to translate the Bible into thirty-five languages in order that thousands might believe and be saved.
How would George Muller show his gratitude to the Lord for providing means for thousands of orphans to be housed, fed and educated in the ways of God? Or Livingston for opening up Africa to the gospel. Each with composer A.P.Gibbs could say,
‘ O Lord, from my heart I do thank Thee For all Thou hast borne in my room, Thine agony, dying, unsolaced, Alone in the darkness of doom, That I, in the glory of heaven, Forever and ever might be - A thousand, a thousand thanksgivings, I bring, blessed Savior, to Thee!’
HAPPY NEW YEAR and may the Lord bless you through 2012.
Written by Stan Burditt
Listen to brief explanations about life and faith in God at www.seekthetruth.org.uk