Philippians 4:6-7 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There is a difference between being polite, and being truly thankful. One is taught, and one comes from the heart.
"The poor starving kids in Korea would be thankful for any food."
"Now that do you say?" "Thank You."
Often such things had to be dragged out of young mouths, even against their will, it was part of being polite.
But it was more than being polite, for thanks were owed, and such debts must be acknowledged and paid. And there were consequences when they were not paid. People might not be as generous in the future, and parents who failed to teach such things might get "What kind of a child are you raising?" And it was more than an old custom, for a debt of gratitude is a real debt. In fact, it is so basic, that it is one of the fundamental reasons why all people are called to worship God. To worship him as your creator, to worship him as the giver of all good things, to worship him as he who sustains the universe, who keeps all from plunging into chaos. It’s a basic duty, and it is owed even if you do not think you need a savior, redeemer. It is owed even if you do not want forgiveness or eternal life. And in the end, God will collect what is owed, even the devil and all his host will be required to worship and praise God, along with all creation.
We also know that prayer is very important. We know we should call upon God in the day of trouble. We know we should ask Him for those things we need. Such asking is also known as supplication, we ask for this, we ask for that, (and such asking is know as petitions). But our text reminds us that along with asking also comes thanking. Which suggests that one ought keep a list of what we ask for, so that when God gives it, we can thank him, acknowledging him as the giver. Other wise, if we receive, but do not give thanks, well…. Its not good!
And up to this point, even though we are talking about God and a duty to him, we are not really talking about anything more than being polite. Because real thanks comes from the heart and does not need to be demanded, or forced – we often talk about it as gratitude. For gratitude does not see merely the gift given, but sees also the love that prompts the gift.
So God promises to keep our hearts and minds in Christ unto life everlasting, that is to preserve us and our soul and save us from everlasting hell. And this is the love of God, that he gave his only son into death, that he might bring us forgiveness, life and salvation.
And it is out of this love, that we are moved to respond to God, not because of a law that says we owe such service, but from love which flows from the love, where with God has first loved us.
In love God gives us his word. In love the word works faith in our hearts. In love, through the spirit we are made a new creation. In love our sins are forgiven. In love we receive eternal life. And this love moves us to return such love to the one who has loved us with an almighty everlasting love, and to thank him for all he has done to us – and this thanks that flows from love is gratitude.
Many this day are told to give thanks, are told to count their blessings, and because it is right and proper many comply with this law. But my prayer for you this day, is that you may experience the love of God in Jesus Christ, and the wonder of the gospel of salvation, and in response to God’s great love, that you may find gratitude flowing from your hearts to God for all he has done, and for all he will continue to do. For God will be with us, guiding us through life, to the heaven he has prepared for us in Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen.