“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 foolish hearts were darkened.” – Romans 1:21
How did they become futile in their thinking and foolish in their hearts? Not by denying that God exists, they can’t do that. It says quite clearly that they knew God. But how did they become futile in their thinking and foolish of heart? By not thanking God.
Mistakenly, we think that people are grumpy and ungrateful because of their unbelief. But the opposite is true. Grumpiness and ingratitude leads to unbelief. Ingratitude leads to futile thinking and a foolish darkened heart.
We have it all backwards. We want to lecture and instruct – but our mission in the world ought to be gratitude.
Christ commanded us to disciple the nations by teaching them about Christ, and we project our modern theories of education and psychology onto this. We think outreach in its various forms is a matter of head knowledge or behaviorism. We strenuously attack atheism, liberalism and Darwinism while instructing the masses in an ethic of noism. But the root problem of disbelief is ingratitude.
Jesus taught by example. On the night that He was betrayed, the eve of his trial and brutal execution, Jesus held up the loaf and He gave thanks. Broken hearted and teary eyed at the door of Lazarus, as the rolled away the stone Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and said “ Father, I thank you….” Rejoicing in the Father’s abundant provision, he lifted up the single loaf and fish and gave thanks. Jesus taught by example and so should we. In the midst of excruciating circumstances. In the face of loss and tragedy. In the grip of miraculous blessing. Jesus was grateful. Gratitude. Giving thanks. Rejoicing. These are the weapons of Jesus’ warfare and so they should be the weapons of our warfare.The fruit of disbelief is despair. With the rise of suicides, the fallout of the election, the rise of terrorism and ISIS, all the gender bending in a culture of over-sexualized juvenilia and hedonism, we have to repent of joining in the chorus of the world’s despondency instead of being the chorus who raises their hands in thankful praise to a Gracious God, everyday.
We are all too often a stern, listless, frustrated, puritanical people. Our participation in the public square most often resembles a discontent writing angry letters to the editor, gripping their crayon like a rod of iron. Our twitter and Facebook feeds are full of the badness of the world, not the goodness of the LORD.
The conspiracies of the nations against Christ – against Christian truth, thought, education, orthopraxy and worship – are legion. But we are called to imitate our Father….Psalm 2:4 “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”It will seem like irreverence. And it is. But irreverence for the idols of our age is a banner under which we should all gather singing the anthems of Christ. Political correctness is fallen holiness for the idols of our age. A cheerful irreverence for those idols expressed in a belly laugh is true holiness – Trinitarian Holiness. On a day when all the world is wringing hands and shouting in protest, groaning for salvation, the noise that will startle the ears of the world is laughter.
And thus – our gratitude will pull down defenses. As our wives are praised in the gates. While our children are full of the presence and pleasure of their fathers. Amongst a people constantly giving thanks for jobs and cars and homes – secure in their welfare no matter what the financial markets are doing. Christians, who pray without ceasing and rejoice in the word of God, with lives defined by Gratitude toward God – we overcome the foolish and futile thinking of the world.
Do you want to drive foolishness and darkness from your marriage? From your children? From the world? Then give thanks to God! If you don’t give thanks to God that’s a problem. If you don’t think there’s a reason to give thanks to God, that’s a problem. If darkness threatens your heart, your hope and your home – if futile thinking clouds your judgement, your job and your joy – the only cure for what ails you is gratitude.
Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”