For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21, esv).
“Thank You, God.” How often do those words cross our lips? How often does genuine gratitude fill our hearts? This isn’t a peripheral issue; it’s actually central and critical to our faith.
Only when we acknowledge God as the gracious provider of general blessings—such as life, breath, food, and shelter—do we begin to comprehend our need for God in a personal way and then to express faith in Him.
This is significant. Gratitude precedes faith. In fact, faith grows in the soil of thankfulness. Only when a person outside of Christ is willing to acknowledge, “Yes, there is a God. I have received much from His hand and probably owe Him something more than passive acknowledgment. Perhaps I should turn and consider whether I ought to be reconciled to this God who made me and gives me life and strength”—only then will this person be ready for faith. Yes, faith sprouts in the soil of gratefulness.
Paul made this same point on a cosmic scale in Romans 1, when he made this argument:
In Paul’s words, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19–20). Only the most hard-hearted unbeliever could ever gaze at the universe and conclude, “There is no God.” Scripture says this person is a fool (Psalm 14:1). The creation screams the existence of the Creator! The intricacies of nature didn’t come from a mindless, purposeless explosion. That wouldn’t make any more sense than throwing a stick of dynamite into a printing factory and expecting the explosion to produce the Declaration of Independence. Order doesn’t come from chaos, and our awareness of the existence of God should lead us to thankfulness, which should lead us to faith.
Now, amazingly, your capacity to make the right choice about the existence of God hinges on the level of thankfulness in your heart. As Paul argued, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” At the root of humanity’s rejection of God is a resolute unwillingness to be thankful.
Are you willing to give Him thanks? All of the good things God wants to bring into your life sprout in the soil of thankfulness. This goes beyond saying the right words, a perfunctory “thanks” here and there. True gratitude runs deep. This is a serious heart question: Are you grateful to God? Gratitude and faith are tightly linked: no gratitude—no relationship with God. But know gratitude—and your heart is primed to know God.
Lord, thank You for the gift of life. For air to breathe. For health and strength. For loved ones—not perfect people, but people who support and care for me. For my church family. For Your Word. And thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who pursues me so faithfully and brings Your truth to bear upon my life. Thank You for the life-changing experience of walking with Jesus Christ. Thank You for the assurance of sins forgiven and the promise of eternal life. I choose today by an act of the will to turn away from complaining and to focus upon Your goodness. Would You cause genuine gratitude to fill my heart, thoughts, and words? For You are worthy! In Jesus’ name, amen.