Have you ever thought about what your thankfulness, or lack thereof, communicates? In other words, what is the message we present when we are thankful or when we are not? People give messages all the time.
We give the message of what teams we pull for when we wear their apparel. We give messages when we place bumper stickers on our vehicles. We give messages just by the way we walk.
Likewise, we communicate a message when we express thankfulness. We have already discussed the foundations of and methods for cultivating thankfulness. These will form the basis for the message we communicate.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (CSB)
What does demonstrating thankfulness communicate?
First, it communicates obedience to your Lord. The first commandment found in the Decalogue is, “Do not have other gods besides me” (Ex. 20:3, CSB). When we fail to obey God, we are placing ourselves (or, others) before Him. When we obey, particularly in reference to thankfulness, we are demonstrating our obedience to God. We are communicating the message that, regardless of circumstances, we obey God.
Second, it communicates trust in the Lord. When we thank God for everything, not only do we demonstrate obedience, we also demonstrate trust. Think of a parent and a child. The parent disciplines the disobedience child. Does the child doubt the parent’s love? Perhaps, but more often than not the child trusts the parent’s decision. Or, to put it more in line with our present discussion, when a parent makes the child wait for that candy until after dinner, the child demonstrates trust when he or she does not continually ask for candy.
When we are thankful, regardless of what we are experiencing, we communicate a message of trust in God. Job does this in Job 13:15, “Even if he kills me, I will hope in him” (CSB). A thankful heart communicates a trusting heart.
Third, it communicates a biblical worldview. Now, this one may seem out of place, at least initially. But when we give it more thought, I am sure it will be clear. Think about our worldview, that is, how we view everything. If we view this life as limited to physical matter, then the evolutionary theory and accompanying philosophical views (i.e., Marxism) makes complete sense. However, if we have a biblical worldview, we understand things differently. Evil and suffering, while no less horrible or painful, are observed within the context of God’s greater work. Thankfulness communicates this view. Consider Paul’s and Silas’s experiences in the Philippian jail (see Acts 16:19-25). As they sat in the cold, all alone, they “were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25, CSB). After the Lord providentially brings an earthquake, the jailor asks them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (16:30, CSB) Why would he ask this? Not only were they praying and singing hymns, but they also communicated to the jailor that they had a biblical worldview. Paul, writing to the Philippians, also presents this understanding in chapter one verses 12-14.
So, friend, what are you communicating? What message does your thankfulness, or ungratefulness, communicate? Perhaps you need to go back and read the previous posts, repent of your sin and work, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be thankful.