What if we receive numerous good gifts from God every day while living in this world? Whenever we get a gift from God, we will always be happy and grateful as well. In fact, God gives us a gift every moment, every day. However, since we cannot tell if it is a gift, we sometimes fail to be thankful and instead we grumble or complain, so that we cannot give glory to God.
A hardship that befalls us is a gift from God, and something joyful is also a gift from God. Our family and neighbors and so many people we meet are all gifts from God. Even a trial we may sometimes encounter is actually a gift from God. If we realize that everything given to us today is a gift from God, we will be able to go forward with complete faith, not falling into temptation but always giving thanks to God.
We receive a lot of free gifts from God and live on their benefits. Let’s suppose that God does not give us sunlight. The temperature will drop to hundreds of degrees below zero all year round, and the existence of human beings themselves on the earth will be impossible.
And what if God does not give mankind water and oxygen? Some say that science enables them to make water by combining hydrogen and oxygen. However, if they are not allowed to use any of God’s creations and have to make water by creating hydrogen and oxygen by themselves, they will never be able to make even a cup of water no matter how hard they try. Moreover, if humans have to create oxygen to make water by themselves so that they can drink it during their lifetime, they will not be able to bear the enormous costs.
If God does not bestow such gifts upon us each day, we cannot live even a single day. However, even though we have been freely using things that God has given us, we have probably been living without fully giving thanks to God. We should be thankful for everything, but sometimes we just compare ourselves outwardly with others and that is probably why we feel relative deprivation: ‘That person has so many big and gorgeous things, while I only have these small and common things.’
There is no one who lives without hardship. All people—not only the ordinary people but even the celebrities who look gorgeous and those who have great authority or wealth—live a very burdensome life alike. Apparently they may seem happy, but inwardly they have more worries and pains than others in order to maintain what they own.
God has given us everything as a gift, good and profitable. To change our ungrateful heart into a grateful one, God gives us this teaching.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.1 Th 5:16-22
To be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, we must not forget that everything around us is a gift which God has given to refine us. On our journey to heaven, we do not know what we are lacking in, but God knows everything about us. Knowing all things, God has put each of us in the best circumstances. So the Bible tells us to be joyful always and give thanks in all circumstances.
Everyone has shortcomings. Some people have a very quick temper, and some are very slow. Some are very cold-hearted, and some are exceedingly energetic. God has given a proper gift to each of us, and refines our hearts and re-creates us into the perfect beings of heaven.
… The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.Pr 17:1-3
Look around you. An attentive husband or a husband with a fierce personality like a tiger, a caring and tender wife or a selfish wife, a dutiful child or a troublesome child … Each and every one of them is a gift that God has given you to take you to the kingdom of heaven. Even though people around us have different thoughts and opinions than us, they are also gifts that God has given us.
Even if someone says unpleasant things to us, we have to realize that God is now trying to help us cultivate an enduring faith. If everybody says only good things to us, there is no way to find out whether we are patient or impatient. We must not lament, ‘Why are there only these kinds of people around me, even though God can put more kind, respectable and talented people around me?’ Rather, we should realize that God is blessing us through that kind of situation. ‘Since my shortcomings cannot be fixed without going through these kinds of conditions, God has created all circumstances favorable for me.’ If we understand this, we will be able to live in thanksgiving even for what we are lacking in.
Today, too, God gives us sunlight as energy, fresh oxygen, clean water and beloved people as well. So, we have nothing to envy in the world. The circumstances given to us and everything that has happened to us today are all God’s gifts to us. Believing this, let us always give thanks to God.
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”Ps 50:23
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools …Ro 1:21-22
The Bible tells us that the person who sacrifices thank offerings honors God.
Those who are not grateful cannot honor God. Although they claim to be wise, their thinking becomes futile and foolish, so they cannot help but fall into ignorance and lose the kingdom of heaven.
God came to this earth to seek and to save the lost, and gave us the laws of the new covenant and all the teachings of truth. In the process of keeping the truth of the new covenant and putting it into practice, there are sometimes easy things and sometimes difficult things awaiting us. However, all those processes are eventually a gift that God bestows on us to take us back to heaven.
In the parable given by Jesus, when the prodigal son thought that he had much wealth and that everything in the world would go as he had planned, he abandoned his father, left home and set off for a distant country to pursue his own pleasures.
However, when he squandered all his wealth in wild living and was put into a desperate situation where he had no food and even longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything, he was reminded of his father and his home that he had left, repented of his sin, gave up his dissipated life and returned to his home (Lk 15:11-24).
Just as the prodigal son suffered many hardships, we sometimes also need a process of trials. God can grant all our wishes right away, but if He does so, we will think that everything in the world will go according to what we have planned and will abandon God and His kingdom as well. To grant us eternal happiness, God sometimes gives us temporary hardships. In the process, we need God more urgently and come to have a more earnest yearning for heaven, our spiritual home, so we can run powerfully toward the kingdom. This is how God refines our hearts.
Every word God gives us is also a great gift from Him. Whenever we open the Bible, God pours out gifts on us, His words, through which He leads us to the eternal kingdom of heaven.
If we understand that, we speak words of thanksgiving, but if we don’t, we cannot help but say words of complaint, being sulky, irritated and distressed.
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.Eph 5:4
If we give somebody a good present but that person who receives it gets angry instead of being thankful to us, we will never feel like giving a gift to that person again. The Bible is filled with tremendous gifts and blessings which lead us to the kingdom of heaven. Since we receive God’s gifts every day, we must not grumble or complain as if we have not received anything.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Php 4:4-7
God guards the hearts and minds of those who are thankful, but He does not guard those who grumble and complain. In the Israelites’ desert journey, God rained down manna from heaven upon them, gave them water out of the rock, and granted them good gifts every day for 40 years. However, the people always poured out their complaints to God even for small hardships. Then God withdrew His gifts from those ungrateful people. As a result, God’s protection ceased and they were destroyed in the desert. Taking a lesson from this history of Israel, we must not forget to give thanks to God for the gifts He gives us every day.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.Col 2:6-7
… And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Col 3:15-17
The saints of the early Church were ridiculed and persecuted by people just because they believed in the man Jesus as God. Some of them were killed by lions and some were burned alive at the Coliseum in Rome, but until the moment they were martyred, they were strengthened in faith, overflowing with thankfulness.
This is God’s will for us. Let us, too, be changed into grateful people and always give thanks to God, thinking about the will of God in any and all circumstances. If there is someone around us who has died in faith and been carried ahead in the arms of God, we should give thanks to God instead of complaining against Him. From a spiritual point of view, we are temporarily living as aliens and strangers here on this earth. Our body returns to the ground because it came from the dust of the ground, but the spirit in us is given by God, so if anyone finishes their mission on this earth, they must return to the kingdom of heaven where God dwells (Ecc 12:7).
The apostles and saints like Stephen and Paul suffered many hardships on this earth. But where are they now? Without a doubt, they are all comforted in the arms of God in heaven, aren’t they? Being thankful to God for giving us such a great blessing, we, too, must endure hardships and difficulties with thankfulness and fulfill the mission entrusted to us, looking forward to the day when we will return to our eternal spiritual home.
Let’s remind ourselves again that the Bible tells us to give thanks to God. Since God always gives us good gifts, let us also offer good fruit to God as a present with gratitude.
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.1 Th 2:13
Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith… . How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.1 Th 3:7-10
At all of the most important occasions in our life of faith, we must sing praises to God with thanksgiving and repay God with gratitude, overflowing with thankfulness. This is God’s will for us. Following the will of God, the saints of the early Church thanked God continually for His gifts.
We, too, must have this kind of faith. When something difficult happens to us, we may not understand right away why God gives us hardships. However, when we look back upon our past life after time passes by, we will be able to realize that everything is a gift from God.
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.2 Th 1:3-4
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Th 2:13-14
It is the duty of God’s people to thank God always. As God gave us the command to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” so He also gave us this command: “Give thanks always.” Let us be thankful to God in all circumstances—even in persecution and hardship. Then Satan will finally give up and retreat from us because we do not waver no matter how hard he tries to afflict us.
To lead us to salvation, God has controlled history throughout all ages, and He even counts the number of hairs on our heads. Since God has made us a royal priesthood of heaven and leads us to the eternal kingdom of heaven, we can never thank God enough even if we give thanks for His grace for ever and ever.
The reason why we should be filled with thankfulness every day is because the kingdom of heaven we are going to be a place overflowing with praise and thanksgiving. Those who complain can never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, …Rev 4:8-9
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”Rev 7:11-12
In heaven, all the spiritual beings including angels always give glory, honor and thanks to God.
Thanks belong to God. So God’s children, who participate in the “divine nature,” must give thanks to God in all situations or circumstances.
Everyone has their own cross as Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Since the crosses we take up are our shortcomings and obstacles to going to heaven, God refines us through such hardships, and is re-creating us into the heavenly people, the perfect beings, today, too.
God lavishly gives us the gifts of heaven, which we need the most as heavenly citizens (Php 3:20). Realizing that everything is a gift which God gives us to lead us to the kingdom of heaven, let us be joyful and thankful all the time. Rather than just continuously receiving a gift from God, let us also give a good gift to God our Father and God our Mother. I hope that all of you will live a life of faith, overflowing with thanksgiving, and bear at least ten fruits, so that you can offer your gifts to God and receive God’s abundant blessings.