Jerry Bridges begins his chapter on unthankfulness with the story of the ten lepers as found in Luke 17. The ten men cried out for mercy, and Jesus healed them of their leprosy. Only one of the ten returned to offer thanksgiving to Jesus. Bridges summarizes our reaction: “How could those nine men be so ungrateful as to not even turn back and say a word of thanks to Jesus?” But the trouble here is that we are often just as ungrateful. Our lives are full of innumerable things for which we could give thanks to God, the greatest of all being the miracle of new life through Jesus Christ. Bridges says it simply, “Taking for granted all the temporal provisions and spiritual blessings that God has so richly bestowed on us, and so failing to continually give Him thanks, is one of our ‘accepatble’ sins.”
Bridges reminds us that being thankful to God is not just a nice thing to do but, in fact, the “moral will” of God. Romans 1:18-32 provides us with a picture of a society descended into moral anarchy. The cause is clear: “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” (v. 21). So we see that being ungrateful is the beginning of a path which leads to moral chaos. Really raises the stakes, doesn’t it?
We have a moral imperative to give God thanks for his many blessings to us, most of all for our salvation in Christ. Bridges goes farther, however, and makes it clear that our gratitude is to be offered in every circumstance. This is not acting as if everything is okay. It is giving thanks by faith. Specifically, the faith by which we give thanks is rooted in the promise of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Because we trust the God who made this promise to his people, we give thanks even in the darkest times. The alternative is a descent into the kinds of sins that Bridges discusses in the coming chapters: pride, selfishness, impatience, lack of self-control, and anger.
What are some temporal blessings for which you are thankful to the Lord today? In what areas of your life can you apply the promise of Romans 8:28? Have you taken the time today to simply tell God “thank you” for the gift of salvation in and through Jesus?