Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1
I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving Day. Our family celebrated Thanksgiving with friends, fellowship, and feasting. I was grateful for some small blessings, such as the turkey breasts I grilled being exactly the right temperature at precisely the right time to serve them. And though I was grilling in sub-freezing temperatures (you do what you have to in Alaska!), at least the air was calm so I wasn’t fighting the wind.
More importantly, I have countless reasons to be thankful: for family, friends, health, God’s faithful provision of all our daily needs, and so much more. Most of all, I am grateful for the redemption God has promised us in Christ. In Christ even adversity in this life becomes an occasion for thanksgiving, because the same sovereign God who worked salvation for us in Christ works out all things for our good (Romans 8:28). And so we can “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Despite the sorrow and pain you may be experiencing now for whatever reason, I pray you have found reasons to give thanks to God. Truly he is good, and he has manifested his goodness and love in the gift of his Son Jesus Christ.
Our Sunday School class on the book Presbytopia went well, I thought. Again we had several good questions and comments. We finished chapter 1 on Scripture, and we’ll begin chapter 2 this Sunday on the doctrine of God.
I preached on 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 at the morning service. My two points were: “giving produces thanksgiving,” and “thanksgiving produces giving.” Paul provides the Corinthians with reasons why they should give freely and generously – because if they sow abundantly, they will reap abundantly, because God loves a cheerful giver, and because God will provide for all their needs. But then he gives them, and us, the greatest reason of all for liberal giving. And that is, it will glorify God. The Corinthians’ giving, Paul tells them, will overflow in “many thanksgivings to God” (v. 12). In other words, both those who observe their generosity (like Paul) and those who will be helped by their generosity (in this case, Judean Christians) will glorify God as they thank him for it.
The lesson for us is, the more we give to the Kingdom of God, the more God will receive praise and glory from those who are blessed by it. And so if giving is sowing (v.6) , the seeds we sow are glory seeds. And one day they will bear the fruit of glory to God as those who are redeemed, blessed, and built up through the giving of God’s people praise and magnify him in their lives and worship. What better incentive to give than that? More glory to God!
At the same time, thanksgiving produces giving. This is implied in all that Paul says in this passage, and earlier in chapter 8. The same joy that led Paul to exclaim, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressibe gift!” (v.15) was the joy of the Macedonian Christians who gave “in a wealth of generosity on their part” despite their own “extreme poverty” (8:2). Those who rejoice in Christ, that is, those who are grateful for God’s grace to them in Christ, naturally desire to give to the cause of Christ. A grateful giver is a cheerful giver, the kind of giver God loves (9:7). So thanksgiving produces giving.
Giving is rooted in the gospel. God gave us his Son, and the Son gave us his life. If we are gospel people, we will be giving people. May God give you a heart filled with thanksgiving, that your joy might “overflow” in generosity (8:2), which will in turn “overflow” in more thanksgivings to God (9:12).
Soli Deo Gloria!