For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Romans 1:21
And here begins the decent into darkness and depravity. It is easy to gloss over this phrase as I read further into the chapter about exchanging the glory of the incorruptible God for a corruptible image of men or animals, exchanging the truth for lies, and committing indecent acts. This progression culminates as God gives them over to a depraved mind and they are filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, and greed while lacking understanding, mercy and love.
This terrible downward spiral results from neglecting to honor God and give Him thanks. Ingratitude is the gateway sin opening the door to darkened hearts, futile thinking and the pursuit of ungodly passions.
And of this is I am guilty: a hundred plus times every day, I miss the opportunity to honor God or give thanks. This is my wake up that gratitude is not optional if I want to choose life and not death.
I stumble thinking I have to FEEL grateful. Some days I do, but on other days I have to purposely write down a few things to acknowledge as gifts (not entitlements) from God. For example, a hot shower, electricity, sight and a delicious cup of coffee frequently make the list, but these things are temporal. I thank God that my name is written is His book of life and He is returning to take me to be with Him forever. I thank God that He has sealed me with His Holy Spirit and hears my prayers (even if I don’t see an answer) and that His peace is my fortress in the storms of life.
Like love, giving thanks and expressing gratitude is an action not a feeling.
I once heard someone ask, “What would happen if you wake up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?” What would I have?
In Romans 7, Paul asks why he doesn’t do the things he knows he should. This is how I feel when I fail to be grateful, and yet each time I recognize my lack of gratitude it presents an opportunity to remember the gospel and allow the kindness of God to lead me to repentance. For His unfailing love and unending mercy I am grateful.