Rev. David Filsinger
Special to The Guardian
(Psalm 116:17 NIV) I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.
As we celebrate the abundant fall harvest across our province, it is appropriate to express a deep sense of gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness to God, who is the source of all blessing.
Gratitude (the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness) is not simply a seasonal event, but rather a gift from God concerning the right posture and attitude every day of the year!
A Grateful Heart Acknowledges Our Need of God
The Psalmist quickly recognizes his complete dependence upon God. Because gratitude is vitally connected to humility and service, our first impulse is to resist such posture. We would rather be independent and self-sufficient. It is only in admitting our need of Him that we open the door for God to enter with His gracious help. It is in our weakness that we experience God’s grace, His saving presence and action. (Psalm 116: 4 – 6 NIV) Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!" The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion… when I was in great need, he saved me.
God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. A grateful heart recognizes that we did not create ourselves and that we only exist because of God’s creative and ongoing covenantal love. To say thank you to God is to confess: “I am not my own and I depend on Him as the Giver of all good things.” When he pours out His mercy and compassion upon us, it becomes normal to respond with gestures of gratitude and thankfulness.
Gratitude Acknowledges Our Need for One Another
A grateful heart also expressed itself in the context of mutual relationships. To truly love God is to love our neighbour. The call here is to recognize that we are not self-sufficient and that we really do need one another and the gifts that we receive from others. Gratitude is my response to those gifts. In loving God with all our heart, we allow love and honour to flow freely through communal relationships. Together we experience the joy of both giving and receiving. William Shakespeare said it well: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed. It blesseth him who gives and him who takes.”
What a different world we would have if we practised gratitude as the answer to greed and anger that move us to competition, manipulation, and antagonism. Gratitude is all about receiving, encouraging, and blessing. How quickly we grumble and complain. To say thank you more often would change our own hearts and the world in which we live. We may even start a Gratitude 365 revolution!
Ask the Holy Spirit for a revelation of your Heavenly Father who in His love and mercy has reached down to you, and in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, has offered you the gift of salvation and forgiveness. In receiving this gift by faith, you return to the Father a gesture of gratitude which in turn releases His blessing and mercy back into your life. As you do, the fruit of gratitude grows, matures, and multiplies for his glory.
Rev. David Filsinger is lead pastor of the Sherwood Church of the Nazarene. A guest sermon runs regularly in Saturday’s Guardian and is provided through Christian Communications.