Our prayer this week may be the most familiar part of every single prayer that you offer to God. Although, what often follows these three words? There is a way to say that in a very self-centered way and a God-centered way. By the phrase, self-centered, I do not imply a negative connotation. I am simply describing a prayer that is consumed with “self.” Please do not misunderstand. Offering thanksgiving to God for the good things in my life is a good thing. My concern is whether or not our thanksgiving extends to issues that pertain more to God than myself.
Have you thanked God for Jesus? It sounds simple and straightforward. What do YOU mean when you say it? It occurred to me recently that if the words, “thank you,” ever seemed trivial, this was it. How can two words possibly convey the gratitude we feel for Jesus. I encourage you to imagine a scenario where you are actually thanking Jesus in a face to face setting. Use your imagination. What do we say? “Thank you for leaving your perfect dwelling with the Father and exchanging it for, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me’ (Mark 15.34). Thank you for being rejected (Mark 15.13), mocked (Mark 15.17-20), and crucified for hours on a cross (Mark 15.25, 33). All of this, of course, is so that I do not have to pay for MY OWN sins.” How do we even begin to convey this idea? Is it possible that the words, “thank you for Jesus” may not even be offered with more depth than thanking someone for opening a door?
When is the last time that you thanked God for a purpose? There are many good causes in this world. Yet, each of them suffers the same reality – they are temporary. Even if my action helps someone for a day (which is a good thing), in the scope of eternity, what will it mean? There are two prominent characteristics in the New Testament to consider in relation to purpose: self denial (Luke 9.23) and service (Matthew 23.11). God’s purpose for us through His Son demands these characteristics. Is it possible, as a side benefit, that these two characteristics ultimately provide the most fulfillment anyways? Paul illustrates an eternal purpose well in 1 Thessalonians 2.19.
I encourage you to always thank God for the people in your life who help you to remain faithful to God. Could you possibly say the same words as Paul in Philippians 1.3-11 with regard to your brothers and sisters in Christ? I hope that you thank God for giving us a system that has brought us together so that we do not have to live out Christianity alone. Most importantly, I hope that you long to be with this family for eternity.
Lord, thank you.