For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21Thankfulness is one weapon that we can use to protect ourselves from the Babylonian culture of this world (yes, I'm doing the Beth Moore Daniel study in addition to the BSF Romans study right now). Being thankful is counter to being greedy. If we thank God for all that we have (or even the little that we have), we can hopefully insulate ourselves from that greedy "more is more" mentality that is so prevalent in the United States. The way it is presented here, thanks is a natural, and expected, response to knowing God.
God is glorified when we recognize Him for all He is--not just love, but also just; not just peace, but wrath as well; not only deliverer, but also the one who tests my resolve. We must know and understand God as He is fully revealed in the Bible if we seek to worship Him and avoid "exchanging the truth of God for a lie" (Romans 1:25), which might include the "God is love" version of theology where God ends up looking like some sort of wish-granting Santa Claus.
In addition to glorifying Him as God, thankfulness helps to keep our thinking from becoming futile and our hearts becoming darkened. Focus on self will inevitably turn our hearts away from God. I have often struggled with truly understanding what it means to give God glory. We know that it means to exalt or praise, and it is generally tied to worship. I am beginning to see God is given glory when I submit to Him by acknowledging a rightful acceptance of who He is through knowing His full character. I become less, both in my thinking and my reactions, and so He is given glory in my choices and is the one to whom my actions and service point. Ingratitude is a selfish manifestation of the state of our hearts.
As a parent, my daughter's expressions of ingratitude are infuriating (wrath producing at times). One particular incident still stands out in my mind. We were on vacation when she was a preschooler. We had gone to one of those staples of every beach community--a wonderland complete with go karts, bumper cars, arcade games and rides. We bought tickets and handed them out. Amanda chose which rides to go on with her tickets, her favorite being the bumper boats. She is the one who chose which rides to go on with her tickets, but as we were leaving, she was howling. "I didn't get to ride the bumper boats again!"
Oooh, I was so mad at her! "How dare she be so ungrateful," I thought. "She chose what she wanted to do, and I let her. Now instead of saying 'thanks mom' for bringing her to this fun place, she is complaining that she didn't get to ride something a second time! Why I ought to just. . . "
(to be continued)
Note: I have stalled in my Romans study, so that anyone who is studying in BSF should have already completed and studied the portion of scripture that I am covering, after my friend Danielle told me that she felt like she had "cheated" when she read my Nature post when she was behind on her lesson.
Index of Romans' posts