“The fool says in his heart, there is no God…” – Psalm 14:1
The Christian’s grateful heart does two things—glorifies God in His majesty and splendor, and thanks Him for His goodness, faithfulness and manifold provision, no matter the circumstance. A person new in faith may think the command to thank God in ALL circumstances to be extreme, or that God is insensitive to people’s pain and is likely narcissistic; but the truth is that beneath every law/command is the foundation of love and all the attributes that come with it; one of those attributes is, love protects (1 Corinthians 13:7). And this flows over, particularly, into the command to glorify and thank God.
Am I saying that God will angrily refuse to protect you if you don’t honor Him in these specific ways?
No. And that’s not the focus. The essential message here rests on the danger that comes from neglecting to do so. The act of thanksgiving and glorifying God from a genuinely grateful heart protects you from four great evils that most Christians don’t even realize. The issue is as dire as that.
1. Protection against a Futile Mind/Thoughts & a Foolish/Darkened Heart.
“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” –Romans 1:21-23 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
In the place of ingratitude, you’re exposed to the danger of anger and bitterness toward God, likely because you think God has been unfair to you in some way. This may result from your error of being presumptuous—expecting God to act toward you in a certain way or grant your particular request/petition—or being manipulative, where you believe that if you be or act in an essentially “righteous” way, then God must be obligated to bless you in a certain way too, and so you proceed to “earn” these blessings through your works and “righteous actions”. When either of the above doesn’t work out in the way you’d hoped, you may ask questions which, if you do not trustingly lay at the feet of Jesus, you will inevitably develop thoughts that if not filtered through Scripture, will lead you into a pit of utter shock, disappointment, and despair, as opposed to a place of hope, faith and comfort. It is in this pit that the heart starts to darken and your thoughts tread toward futility; left unchecked, these thoughts will infect the mind altogether over time, making the mind futile as well.
If you find yourself spiraling and headed toward this direction, the wisest thing to do is to ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind what you should be thankful for. You’d be surprised and delighted to discover an array of important things that you’d been ignorant of or even overlooked; I’m not talking about the general stuff like the air you breathe, good health, family, food on your table etc.—and all these gifts are lovely to thank God for—I’m talking about specifics in your peculiar circumstance. All you need do is ask that your eyes be open to see them, and you’ll rediscover the amazing goodness and faithfulness of your heavenly Father in degrees that you never imagined possible.
If you continue down the dark path, however, you will not only inevitably insult God and turn your back on Him, but your heart, one day, may decline into the foolishness that says, “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1), and then exchange God’s glory (which is full of grace and truth made available to you, John 1:14) for an image of corrupted self or something else altogether, which is idolatry.
2. Being Given Up to Uncleanness.
Sadly, the danger of ingratitude and not honoring God doesn’t stop at having futile thoughts and mind, and a foolish darkened heart. It extends to a lifestyle of uncleanness. It’s inevitable. Continuing from the above Scriptural text, take a look at the verses that follow.
“Therefore, God also gave them over to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature (yourself or something else—idolatry) rather than the creator, Who is blessed forever, Amen.” –Romans 1:24-25 (NKJV, emphasis and parentheses mine)
When God doesn’t rule in your heart, the flesh and the perculiar lusts of your heart (that you may have struggled with) will. We must understand that we are ONLY capable of any form of good because of God. When we exchange His glory, which supplies us with the grace and truth we need to overcome these struggles (John 1:14) for worship of ourselves (and the lusts of our hearts), uncleanness will set in. In other words, remove God from the equation, and good and holy living (which comes from God’s righteousness) is virtually impossible (Mark 10:18). Even fallen humanity is able to exhibit a form of good—morality—because in our fallen state, we still bear the image of God and so exhibit bits of His likeness, just not at full capacity as originally designed, but regulated, however, by the conscience (the knowledge of good and evil birthed after the fall, Genesis 3:22). This “goodness” or morality in its broken form does not measure up to God’s complete righteousness, as it is as filthy rags in comparison (Isaiah 64:6), so that humanity falls short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23). That being said, when God is not the center of your life, evil from the lusts of your heart is bound to reign in you in one form or another, because, ALL men outside of the redeeming grace of God are subject to the power and rule of sinful flesh (Romans 7:13-25).
3. Being Given Up to Perversions and Vile Passions.
“For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lusts for one another, men with men, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” –Romans 1:26-27 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
It gets worse. The penalty of the above error (uncleanness) is deterioration into the worst kinds of perversions and the vilest of passions. In the text above, homosexuality is mentioned. But it could be any kind of perversion—which is the going against nature—depending on the individual, such as pedophilia/child pornography, incest, bestiality/zoophilia…the list could go on. Does that mean that everyone who falls deteriorates to this level? No. But it’s a real consequence and a real danger. There are people who fell from grace and ended up in this place. Remember the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23)? Jesus categorized the fall of people who’d initially found God, into two groups—those who strayed because of trials (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21) and those who did because of the lusts of the world (Matthew 13:7, 22). The first group fits directly within the context of this topic. Second group? Scratch the surface, and you’ll find underneath, the sense of lack of contentment, which is tied invariably to ingratitude. So yes, falling from grace is a real danger of ingratitude and refusing/neglecting to glorify God in all circumstances. And you never know how far down you’ll go.
4. Being Given Over to a Debased Mind.
If you thought that being given over to perversion and the vilest of passions is the worst of this danger, then check the verses that follow the above texts, from Romans 1:28-32.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with ALL unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them” (NKJV, emphasis mine).
A debased mind. This is different from a futile mind. When something is futile, it is useless or not able to be put into good use. A debased mind is worse. When something is debased, it has been lowered in quality or value in natural character, position or rank. It has been degraded to a lower form of its existence. Rightly put, it is sub-human according to original design. This is serious. It is sad, but it’s also real. This is why the above text says that this kind of mind is undiscerning and untrustworthy; it is incapable of love, invents evil, practices it, and approves of those who do too. It is the worst state of human existence. We were created for love, in love, and by love. When you become incapable of love, you’ve lost identity and purpose. You’re just an existing entity. Does this better help you understand why the world is the way it is today? It paints a clear picture, doesn’t it? And according to this scriptural text, it all began with a group of people who’d known God, but refused to be thankful and refused to glorify Him as God. Take a look.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds, and four-footed creatures and creeping things.”—Romans 1:18-23 (NKJV, emphasis mine).
These people didn’t just know God, God showed them His eternal power and the Godhead (v.20). He showed them these things in manifest ways, including using creation (v.19-20). So as far as God is concerned, they have no excuse for falling into ingratitude or refusing/neglecting to glorify Him (v.20-21). In the same way, we, too, have no excuse. If we lack wisdom or understanding in a particularly difficult and confusing situation, turn to God for comfort, clarity, direction…in that order. This is important: ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of your current pain and confusion. This provision has already been made and given without judgment or bias (James 1:5; John 16:7). Again. All you need do is ask, seek, knock (Luke 11:9-13), and the Holy Spirit will convict you of righteousness—that is, all that is right and good to do (John 16:8-10)—so that your belief in God’s goodness and faithfulness will remain strong and steadfast.
About the Editor
Miranda A. Uyeh is the founder and editor of To Be A Person (TBAP), the author of Christian Romance/Suspense fiction, To Die Once: Child of Grace #1, & a Mogul Global Ambassador. She was a one-time shortlisted judge for the Inspy Awards in 2014 in the Contemporary Romance & Romance/Suspense Category.
When Miranda isn’t reviewing books/entertainment or hosting interviews on TBAP, she’s writing, reading for fun or relaxing with a good movie! When she gets bored with the world, she talks to God about it! To learn more about her book, To Die Once, her journey as an author and her other activities, you can follow her personal website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.
The article, The Danger of Ingratitude & Not Honoring God (The Power of Thanksgiving & Glorifying God), first appeared on To Be A Person (TBAP).