2001-09-26 - Deo Gratis
Psalm 140:13 Surely the righteous will give thanks to Thy name, the upright will dwell in Thy presence.
Augustine (354-430 AD) tells us that in his day. Christians would never part from one another without saying "Deo Gratis." In his day, Deo Gratis was used as we use the term "goodbye." It could be that the believers had just been discussing someone they both knew, who had been given to the lions in the amphitheater, and yet, they still parted with Deo Gratis. Maybe we should adopt such a phrase, regardless of the circumstances in our lives. Deo Gratis shows a spirit of thankfulness to God in all things. The Latin phrase means "Thanks be to God."
I have in mind today to take a side angle at giving God thanks. To introduce this approach, I remind you of the father and son who desired to meet each other but lived far apart. Each agreed to meet at a halfway point. When they met, the son said to the father, "I am thankful to God for a very remarkable providence which I have had on my journey here. My horse has stumbled three times with me, and yet I am unhurt." The father replied, "My dear son, I have to thank God for an equally remarkable providence on my way to you, for my horse did not stumble all the way."
Do you see the lesson in the above illustration? The son gave thanks for God protecting him when things went amiss with his journey, but the father gave thanks that things went well on his journey. Do you give thanks to the Lord when things are going well? Thanksgiving is one of the starting points to living a holy life. A true understanding and grateful heart to the Lord for His unseen blessings and providences is one of the songs of praise the Christian offers to God.
We often give thanks to God when we feel we have escaped some disaster that might have affected us. But do we give thanks when things go well with us? This is often when we are least thinking about giving thanks to the Lord. It should be our practice to give thanks to the Lord in all the seasons of life -- sunny days, rain-soaked tribulations, snow, wind, and fog are all metaphors of life and all times in our lives that we should be thankful to the Lord. We must still give thanks to the Lord when our health departs from us, but we should develop a habit of thanksgiving prior to this, when our health is strong. "In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
We ought to be at least more thankful than animals. Do you thank God for the little things? For example, do you thank God for providing food for your sustenance? Do you sit down and give thanks to God for providing the meal that sits in front of you before you inhale it? I have noticed that this is one thing that separates me from the beasts. When I put food down for my cats they never pause, give thanks, and then proceed. I can hardly get the dish down before there is a mouth in it, devouring the grub. They don't give thanks, and yet are we to be like them, unthankful for those small but necessary things that the Lord provides for us? Let us rise above this.
John Bradford was a martyr for his faith almost 450 years ago under the reign of Queen Mary in England. He had what the Apostle Paul wrote of in Ephesians 5:20, "always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father." When he was persecuted, he replied regarding the queen, "I have no quarrel with the queen. If she release me I will thank her. If she imprison me, I will thank her. If she burn me, I will thank her."
Our thanks to God for His often unnoticed mercies to us should be like this. We ought to always be giving thanks, and in our thanksgiving, we ought to remember His blessings even in minor things.
Soli Deo Gloria,