Sometimes it is not easy to see blessings, and yet when we think more deeply we know that there are so many that it is difficult to single them out. We take them so much for granted, not always because we are ungrateful, but because the blessings we lack fill our thoughts and discomfit our minds, so that we are unable to think of anything else and our whole outlook becomes distempered and discontented.
If you see the grace of God working in your life, and if you recognize the material blessings that have come your way as a consequence, do not forget to thank him. It is sad when there is nothing for which we feel grateful to God, but it is serious when there is something and we fail to show gratitude, and it is tragic when we are so busy asking for more that we forget to thank him for what we have received . . .
The primary reason God blesses us at all is that he may enjoy our thanksgiving and praise. We all like to be thanked and praised, although we do not always deserve it. God likes it more, and he always deserves it. He loves to hear us lisp our praise and gratitude. We do not know why he bothers with us at all, but he does. Surely we are not wrong in saying that, next to the pleasure God has in his dear Son, is the pleasure he has in the sons and daughters who have been begotten through Christ.
How grieved he must be when he hears us praising this one and that one of the frail and fallible sons of men, with never a word for him in his boundless, matchless grace! Is he not a jealous God? Although he is so generous to us in the friends and loved ones he gives us, yet he jealously seeks the first place in the thoughts of our mind, and in the affections of our heart. God never tires of giving. Even when we are not grateful, he gives, and gives, and gives again . . .
Yet God will give nothing in the ultimate sense to the ungrateful heart. The material gifts which he showers upon us may be appreciated for themselves, but it is only when we know and love the Giver that they take a value beyond their own . . . Have we missed the love and peace and joy of God because we have failed to give thanks? Is that why our Christian life lacks lustre?
Most of our blessings from God come to us through others. We must thank them too. Not gushingly (they would not like that), but with warm and chaste sincerity. This is an age of gross ingratitude . . . ‘People don’t expect that sort of thing today, we are much too matter-of-fact!’ Too true, but notice their glad surprise when they meet it . . . His person is ‘full of grace and truth’ and he never goes out. He abides forever. He is not a fashion. He is eternal. And his manners are not a fashion. They are an expression of the heart and mind of the eternal . . .
Lest we forget, let us review our day before we sleep each night and see how often we have failed to thank God, and man, for blessings received.
William Still (1911-1997) was minister of Gilcomston South Church of Scotland, Aberdeen for 52 years. This piece, written in October 1948, was posted on his blog just before Thanksgiving, 2013, by William VanDoodewaard.
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