Cheryl and I spend a great deal of our time teaching our children to say, “thank you.” Why? Because we want them to respect those who came before them. We don’t want them to become prideful, self-indulgent and entitled. And we want them to be aware and affirming of the kindness shown to them by others who were not under compulsion to do so. These are important lessons for any human. Gratitude is Godly.
In the Old Testament, David becomes King after a very proud and entitled man named Saul commits suicide. One of David’s priorities was to establish proper worship in Israel’s Temple. One of the most important facets of Temple worship under the Davidic dynasty was to give praise and thanks to God continually. Notice what David does:
1 Chronicles 16:4 (ESV) Then he (David) appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.
Think of these words. David made it a point to specifically select certain members of Israel’s Old Testament worship leaders (the Levites) to thank and praise God continually in the house of God.
This is a picture for the New Testament Church. We are the spiritual house of God (Ephesians 2:22). We are to continually gather and give God thanks for what He has done. You see, unlike Israel, we were not ancestors of the chosen people. We Gentiles were foreigners and strangers. Paul unpacks this for us:
Ephesians 2:12-13 (ESV) remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Paul tells us to REMEMBER we had no right to the privilege of God’s family. We were by nature children of wrath and lost in sins (Ephesians 2:3). But Christ saved us, He rescued us from our foolish and ignorant idolatry. This is not our own doing, it is the result of His grace (see Ephesians 2:8-9). We boast of Him who found us and saved us. Therefore, our hearts are to be regularly shaped by thankfulness.
So as the New Covenant house of God, here’s my question for you: Have you appointed times to thank God?
Like David in the Old Covenant, thankfulness is something you have to intentionally choose in the New Covenant. Why? Because life hands you a ridiculous amount of reasons to be ungrateful. So says the commercial: “Someone has a better car, a bigger house, a better-looking body… you should have one too, therefore, go buy this or that.” Commercialism has created an insatiable consumer culture built on the foundation of human covetousness – the sin Jesus told us to “watch out for” and “be on our guard” against (Luke 12:15). Greed is a fatal disease that’s hard to see in me (see Saul). Thankfulness is the antidote.
I heard it said before, “Someone with far less than you right now is happy with it.” What a striking reminder to be thankful! The hard truth is that you must deliberately CHOOSE thankfulness. It does not typically arise out of the blue. You have to create space for it in your life. Do not wait until you feel it. Emotions are terrible navigators. Appoint thankfulness. Set a time of each day to tell God what you’re grateful for. Come to church and give Him praise every week. Get into a small group and tell others what God has done for you.
When David finished appointing thanksgiving for the house of God, the scripture says, “David went home to bless his household.” (1 Chronicles 16:43). Notice that David’s gratitude to God was followed by his ability to bless those in his house. What a principle for us! To be thankful to God is one of the best ways to bring blessing into our own home.
Come to God, give thanks, go home, bless your family. Repeat.