Gratitude Acknowledges God as God

I was struggling. 

We were 2 ½ years into planting a church, and things were not going according to my plan. An elder had suddenly departed in a painful way. We couldn’t find a location from which to gain access into a community. While we were seeing God work in peoples’ lives, our numbers were not increasing. To top it off, the building we were in was suddenly sold so we had to make a quick move. The place we ended up was an old house that had been used by a church years before. Not only had they left it in rough shape, but since they had moved out, the squirrels and squatters had moved in. This wasn’t my idea of a prime location for reaching our target audience.  

Slowly but surely, my emotions began to slide. It happened so gradually I didn’t even realize it at first. But the days seemed darker and the work seemed harder. It was getting more challenging to remember God had called me to plant this church. I was beginning to wonder why… and whether I had messed it up beyond repair.  

As is typical of our Loving, Heavenly Father, He brought home a truth from His word. In Romans 1:21, Paul wrote, “For though they knew God, they did not acknowledge Him as God or show gratitude…”  

I knew something was off because of predominantly negative emotions. What I didn’t realize was the reason. I was not acknowledging God for who He says He is and what He says He is able to do.  

You see, the context for acknowledging Him as God and showing gratitude is that everyone can see from creation that God is eternally powerful and divine in his nature (verses 18-20). 

Paul uses a word here not used anywhere else in the New Testament. Divine nature means God’s Deity as revealed to us through his manifest presence in Christ. Essentially, this is a reference to God’s character.  

The Apostle Paul also referenced God’s power. I knew in my head God was powerful enough to provide us a plot of prime real estate in a high-end neighborhood at a cut-rate price. 😊 I was frustrated that He wasn’t doing it because I didn’t understand His plan.  

To boil it down, my failure to be thankful for where God had us and what He was doing meant I was questioning His character and power. The Lord brought this truth home powerfully. “If you are not thankful, you are not acknowledging me as God.”    

By my lack of gratitude, I was not acknowledging His rightful place as Lord of the Universe and Lord of my life. My frustration indicated that I thought my plans were better. I wasn’t thankful for what He was doing. And in that attitude, I was not honoring Him as a good and loving God.  

Repentance begins with a change of mind. I acknowledged his power and character through gratitude. I was grateful that He was working in the lives of our people. I was grateful He was providing for our family. I was grateful for my family! I was grateful for the relationships we were developing through planting a church. And I was truly grateful He was teaching me to worship Him as Lord!  

The Greek word used here for gratitude is eucharisteo. Of course, this word is transliterated into our English word Eucharist, which many commonly know as Communion, a time to remember his loving sacrifice for us.  

Gratitude acknowledges that God is powerful enough to do what is best. Gratitude also acknowledges his divine character. Even in the word the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use, we see that gratitude acknowledges God’s love as expressed for us in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on our behalf.  

We have so much to be grateful for… no matter our circumstances in this life!

FROM FREEDOM IN CHRIST

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