(This is a sermon I preached at PCEA Tumaini on Sunday 19th March 2017)
For those of us who have grown up in the village, saying 'thank you' was a virtue we were taught from when we were little children. No matter how small the favour, we were required to say thank you.
This used to happen mostly when we visited other homesteads - our families or friends - but in our own homes, not so much. We could be given food by our aunts and say a million 'thank you' - but we could get the same food from our parents and not even say one.
Because we didn't think it was a gift if it came from our parents.
At the same time, if we went visiting and got less that we expected, we would say 'thank you' but half-heartedly. If, let's say, we wanted three ripe banana's but got just one; or if we craved for tea but got 'dubia' (sugarless tea) instead.
And with this analogy, we have the main reasons why we don't say thank you to God:
- We don't think everything we have is a gift
- We want more than we currently have
Everything is a gift
We have to realise brethren that everything we are and everything we have is a gift from God. It has been freely given; and we don't have any legal rights to demand for more.
- James 1:17
- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
If I have a billion shillings and then gave you a hundred shillings, you have no legal basis to cry or demand over the remainder. It is a gift, and the giver has the full authority to decide what and how much to give; or even not give anything at all.
That's why they are called the 'Gifts of the Holy Spirit'. I can desire them, I can pray for them - but ultimately, the decision on whether to give me any gift and on which gift to give lies solely on the Holy Spirit.
- 1 Corinthians 4:7
- For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
Are you born again? Even salvation itself is a gift.
- Ephesians 2:8
- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselfves: it is the gift of God.
Everything you are and everything you have is a gift from God. Your life, your health, your job, your money, your family, your wife/husband, your kids. EVERYTHING!
You did NOT do anything to earn it or deserve it. It is not because of anything you did or didn't do - it's all by the grace of God.
The greatest gift is Jesus Christ
The greatest gift ever given to mankind is Jesus the Christ. The Bible says that "For God so loved the world that He gave..." THAT HE GAVE!
Jesus Christ is a gift - we didn't deserve to be saved - but God in His eternal love gave us a Saviour.
If God only gave you Jesus Christ and nothing else, it would be enough.
Let me repeat that again, I don't think you heard me:
IF GOD ONLY GAVE YOU JESUS CHRIST AND NOTHING ELSE, IT WOULD BE ENOUGH!!
Having eternal life, are you going to complain about this earthly life?
Having a new changed body, are you going to complain about an aging and sickly body?
Having been given heavenly blessings, will you now complain about earthly riches?
We need to set our eyes and hearts on the real gift; which is Jesus the Christ and not on the life we live here on earth.
Consider the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. How I pray that we can all learn from that scripture that the situation in this life doesn't really count - it all boils down to 'Do we know Christ? Does Christ know us?'
Stop complaining; Be content
It seems the only thing we humans are good at is complaining. Just listen to anybody - your friends, family, even complete strangers - you will most likely hear them at one point in their conversation complain about something.
We always consider what we don't have and not what we have. we don't see the ninety nine shillings we have, we look at the one shilling missing to get to a hundred shillings. This is then fueled by comparison; and life becomes a race to see who get the most, first.
If your friend buys a ten thousand item, you in your jealousy and envy takes a vow to buy a similar item at eleven thousand. If your brother lives in a one-bedroom house, you will live in a two-bedroom house.
Brethren, what kind of life is this we live? Life is not meant to be a race. This is not an exam - there in no first position, there are no grades.
And the Bible does not condone this kind of a life. It reminds us over and over again to be content with what we have been given.
Paul when writing to Timothy told him:
- 1 Timothy 6:6-8
- But godliness with contentment is great gain.
- For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
- And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
That having food and clothes we should content therein. Not having gold and lands - but food and clothing. Compare this to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-33
- Matthew 6:31-33
- Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
- (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
- But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The Bible then gives us the children of Israel as examples to us that we should not complain. They complained and the wrath of God was kindled that the fire of the Lord consumed them. (Numbers 11:1-4)
The way to give thanks to God is taking what He has given us and giving it back to Him. He asked Moses in Exodus 4:2 "What do you have in your hand?" and He is asking us the same question today.
What has God given you?
1. Your life
You are alive and breathing right now. Take that life and give it back to God by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. This is the best thanksgiving gift you can give to God - by believing on whom He sent.
2. Your body
Then present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Die to self and live only for Him.
Use your body to tell others about Christ, reach out and preach Christ. Jesus said that the harvest is plenty but the workers few - accept to be sent out as a labourer into the harvest. (Matthew 9:37-38)
This is NOT a request by the way, it is commanded and expected of you as a Christian to share Christ. Kindly read this blog on how to actually do that:
3. Material gifts (Offerings and Tithes)
Finally, you can support the work of God financially. This is by giving your material and monetary gifts to the church. But check your motives on why you are giving - it is commendable to God when done with a clean and pure heart.
Paul always remembered to thank God for the Philippians who had continously supported him with material gifts. (Philippians 4:15-18)
I will conclude with these scriptures which the whole sermon was based on:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
- Psalms 100
- Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
- Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
- Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
- Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
- For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.