"The “Anti-Thanksgiving” Verse"
I step away from 2 Timothy to think about the Thanksgiving holiday we are about to celebrate. I want to share with you some thoughts taken from one verse in the Bible, not one that we normally go to for Thanksgiving.
The “anti-Thanksgiving” Verse
A. Many people here have done something nice for a person and never received a thank you note or verbal thank you. I know, you didn’t do it to get a thank you, but it would have been nice for a person to acknowledge the kindness. It was not necessary, but the next time help was needed, you thought about it. If two people need some help that you are able to offer – be it financial or something you have the talent to do – and in the past one was very thankful and the other never acknowledged your kindness which one are you more likely to help a second time?
B. Don’t quote me the scripture where Jesus talks about not doing something to be seen by men. I agree. We are not talking about the need to be thanked, we are talking about the attitude of the receiver. So we sometimes make decisions based upon the attitude of the receiver.
C. Let me tell you a story. It is found in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. He knows that this journey will end in his death, burial and resurrection. He has turned his face to Jerusalem and the disciples are going with him. (Read Text)
D. Jesus asks a great question in verse 18. “Was no one found to return and give praise t to God except this foreigner?” This Samaritan had come back, fell at the feet of Jesus “praising God with a loud voice” and giving him thanks. What about the nine? Is “thanks” really important to God?
I. The Downward Spiral
A. So Paul writes to the house churches in Rome and we find within the opening Paul telling us about the downward spiral of sin. It may seem like a strange text to use for a Thanksgiving sermon, but I believe we as Christians need to hear this text. So come back with me as walk through these verses.
B. Read verse 18. Wrath. What a strong word. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven. God gets angry. Do you understand what makes God angry in this text? I think it centers in the last few words “suppress the truth.”
C. There is an absolute NEED for God in my life. This whole section tells me that these people KNOW about God. This is not a question of “is there a God?” This is about denying something they know. The sinful actions of mankind are a statement. When I sin I say that I don’t trust God to meet whatever need I have that has led me to choose sin.
D. My sin, as one who knows God, suppresses truth. It conceals it. It places a basket over the light of candle. But keep going
E. Verses 19-20. So here we are dealing with people who have some, but limited knowledge of God and of truth and make a choice to not believe and keep others from believing. The place a roadblock to faith. We see this happening several times in the book of Acts. Jews tried to do that with Paul as he preached about a resurrected Jesus. But this group of people who are feeling the wrath of God do so impart because of something we gloss over in this section. Read verse 21.
F. The crux of this sermon is right here. These people had a knowledge of God but look where denial of God led them: (1) They did not honor him AS God (2) They did not give thanks to him and (3) they chose idols as their god.
G. That means the problem with the human race is not a lack of knowledge. The deeper problem is ignoring the knowledge we already have. Truth always demands a response. No one can be neutral in the spiritual arena.
II. The Unthankful Heart
A. What is one of the primary purposes of man? The answer: to glorify God. Truth demands a response, and the truth about God demands that we the creatures glorify him as the great Creator. When we don’t, we fail in the great purpose for which we were created.
B. What does it say when those who know God, who have received blessings from God, don’t give thanks back to God? So we are about to have a Thanksgiving feast. Many of us with family and friends. But who are we thankful to? We the original pilgrims simply thankful they made it through the first winter or thankful solely to the native Americans who helped them learn how to survive? When proclamations were given throughout our national history are we simply thankful for the end of wars or for living in peace? Thanks to WHOM?
C. Yes, I am thankful for you. I am thankful for financial blessings. I am thankful for a house, food, vehicle, all sorts to stuff – but I am first thankful to God for giving me everything I need for life and godliness. What Paul said these people missed was an attitude of gratitude to the God who created us and also saves us.
D. At what point in time is my life so wrapped up in me that I am like the nine lepers who were cleansed but never came back to thank God or the one who cleansed me?
E. When a person simply speaks of having “good luck” they ascribe the good gifts from God to luck/fate/coincidence or for many “self-centered attitudes.” “I worked hard for what I have.” YES! But who gave you that strength, that brain in your head, that muscle in your arm?
A. Paul says in their ungratefulness they became futile in thinking. They worshiped the created instead of the creator. Gratitude or the lack thereof, is a revelation of the heart. Listen to what Paul tells the Corinthians about giving (2 Cor. 9:10-12).
B. So maybe our text is not what you think about when you expect a Thanksgiving sermon. It wasn’t about pilgrims, turkey, parades or black Friday. I want you to take from this sermon the need to be a person who is thankful to God. For in him we live and move and have our very being. What God offers to you this day is living water. “There’s a fountain free, tis for you and me, let us haste O haste to it brink.” Will you come to that fountain?