A Church After God's Own Heart

Thankfulness seems to have been lost from the minds of my generation. We are thankful for a season in November, but are immediately swept in to the Christmas rush. A distinguishing mark for the Christian should be a life saturated with thankfulness, and Scripture is replete with notations of this exemplary life.

The very first evidence of thankfulness in Scripture is from Noah. After the flood of the earth, in obedience to the Lord, Noah built an altar and made a sacrifice to the Lord. He was thankful for God’s providence, protection, and purity.

In Jonah 2:9, Jonah learns of the importance of thanksgiving while in the belly of the whale. He determines, “But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving…Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah had learned that living in thanksgiving has nothing to do with present circumstances and everything to do with the realizations of God’s mercy and love.

David also lived in thanksgiving. Despite his multiple failures and shortcomings, God called him, a “man after His own heart.” Thankfulness from the mouth of David is also evident in Psalm 136:1 where he writes, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” True thankfulness is not just lip service; it comes from a thankful heart.

Jesus also sought to model a life of thankfulness. John writes of the feeding of the 5000. Before Jesus stood 5000 men (not counting the women and children) and all were hungry. After a frantic search for food, Peter told Jesus they could only find five barley loaves and two small fish -- enough for a small boy alone. Jesus took the boy’s meager proportions and gave “thanks” and proceeded to put a lot of grocery stores and restaurants out of business! For Jesus, thankfulness, seemed to be an important element of life -- just as important as breathing, sleeping, or in this case, eating!

Nowhere in Scripture is the importance of Scripture more evident than in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus encounters ten “lepers” with an incurable, very contagious disease. After their healing, notice how many came back to thank Jesus - one. People of all shapes, colors, and generations have struggled with thanksgiving.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul encourages the church, to live in the state of “thanksgiving.” A thankful church is a happy church and its praises of thankfulness are heard by a loving God. Revelation 11:17 reveals thankfulness that continues day and night forever. Therefore, we must consider: if we are going to be giving God thanks for all time in heaven, should not His church start now?

Thankfulness is a state of mind not dependent on present circumstances. We can and should be thankful for “good” blessings, yet we must also be thankful for other kinds of blessings - sickness, traffic jams, and the ending of a relationship. If we really believe that God works all things for good to all who love Him, then we exhibit and model this to the world through thankfulness.

Billy Graham once said, “A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attune to the Lord. Thank God in the midst of trials and every persecution.” Let us be different. Let us be a church after God’s own heart. Let us be thankful.

Dr. Jeff Johnson