Many people lose their way in life because they are not grateful to God. Historically, Paul associated the most serious spiritual and moral losses with an unthankful spirit. He wrote the Christians at Rome that ungodly men were without excuse; “for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened” (Romans 1:21, RSV). The context reveals that failure in thanking contributes to failure in thinking. Awareness of God becomes blurred. Wisdom turns to folly. Worship is transferred from the Creator to the creature. Values are so distorted that the possibility of sanctity and beauty in sex and the hope of social justice and domestic happiness may be wholly canceled.

Some of our most celebrated theologians could have brightened their somber treatises with some chapters on praise, gratitude, and joy. One introduction to Thomas Aquinas which contains seven hundred pages of excerpts from the Angelic Doctor yields very little on Christian gladness. Aquinas thinks that man will find ultimate happiness in that knowledge of God which the human mind will possess after this life. Such stalwarts as Charles Hodge and A. H. Strong have no place in index headings for thanksgiving. Theology would be better written with some thankology.

As a pastor, I have often found church members startled by the simple question: “Have you ever in your life specifically thanked God for Jesus Christ?” Usually the answer has been, No.

Fundamentally, we begin to fulfill God’s purpose for us by offering up our praise:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!

Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord is God!

It is he ...

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