God created all humans both male and female with natural emotions and feelings. Going by God’s original design of man, all the natural human emotions both the positive ones such as love and gratitude, and the negative ones such as anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, grief, and their associated feelings, are good and beneficial to mankind. They are designed as man’s inner means of responding to reports of different things, happenings or situations from the physical and spiritual realms by the human senses to the mind. Different encouraging and undesirable happenings and situations release positive and negative chemicals and hormones that are responsible for various emotions we experience. These emotions have several feelings associated with them.
All these different emotions lie dormant in man until responses to happenings and situations trigger them up. When triggered up, any of the emotions can rise to a very high degree and become overwhelming. The more frequent and longer any emotion is aroused, the stronger, and powerful such becomes until it dominates all other emotions and becomes part and parcel of such individuals and becomes a habit. This implies each individual is responsible for his or her emotional upsurges and that the power to control one’s emotions also lies with the individuals. The major difference between the negative and the positive emotions in this regard lies in the fact that while increment in the degree of any of the positive emotions is very good and beneficial to such individuals, increment in the degree of any of the negative emotions is very dangerous and harmful to the individual.
Gratitude as a natural positive emotion is one of the best gifts of God in humans. Apart from its feelings which are heavenly, true, good, pleasant, full of peace, joy, and gladness; all which are needed for our wellness, its immense benefits to every area of our lives are second only to those of Love. Unfortunately, gratitude just like love is under-utilized by many individuals and this has adversely affected us negatively. Gratitude changes everything positively.
Therefore, God’s commandments and demands from His children (Christians) for a lifestyle of thanksgiving are for our good and benefits as we shall learn as we progress on this topic. Knowing this truth will help us to appreciate God for all the commandments and charges given to us on being thankful and offering thanksgiving to God. 1 Chronicles 16: 8, 34; Psalm 50: 14; 100:4; 118:1; 147:7;Colossians 3:15-17; Colossians 2: 6-7; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 2 Timothy 2:1; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 5:4.
It will also help us to understand the need and importance of living a lifestyle of thanksgiving.
(1) GRATITUDE IS FUNDAMENTAL IN OUR WORSHIP
To the present day generation of Christians, the word worship implies singing praises solemnly and soberly to God. Although, singing of praises is one of the elements of worship yet it is not the total scriptural meaning of it. All the godly men of old were said to have truly worshipped God not because they sang praises to God but because they all lived lifestyles of thanksgiving! Therefore, they were spiritual, pure, and true in heart, in the right relationships with God and man; lived and did everything in the consciousness of God and to His glory and benefit of humanity. This is the meaning of worship in the true sense of it! This implies worship is an all-embracing action that involves every area of our life.
Worship which theologians have defined as “ascribing of worth or honor to the triune God” is the purpose for which we were created. Worship has some elements that include obeisance, prayer, praise, thanksgiving, charity, offering, tithing, vows, evangelism, preaching, teaching, testimony and much more. Doing any of these can be very tasking and they are not meant to be so. Ironically, most of the elements of worship are among the responses of gratitude. One discovers that gratitude is fundamental in every scope of our worship of the only true God.
When we say that something is fundamental it means the core, or central or of great importance. So by saying that gratitude is fundamental to worship implies it is important and central in our Christian worship. It ignites all aspects of true worship.
(2) GRATITUDE CONDITIONS THE HEART FOR TRUE WORSHIP
When talking about worship we are talking about the giving of the whole heart to God in devotion. This implies the heart is the pillar of worship! True worship is done with the whole heart, mind, will, emotions and feelings. Therefore the condition of the heart, positive or negative, strong or weak matters a lot in our worship. This implies the condition of the heart is the determining factor of how and what happens during worship. If the heart is occupied with many things, it cannot worship well. A weak, sorrowful and heavy heart would produce weak worship. However, if it is healthy, positive and joyful, then, it issues out strong and joyful worship.
Man’s heart before the fall in the Garden of Eden was healthy, pure, and full of joy and they worshipped as expected of them. However, when man sinned, he incurred the wrath of God, was penalized and got disconnected from Him. Among the things man stopped doing because of sin was showing gratitude to God. This is because with sin, the heart of man became corrupt, weak and darkened, being full of evil. However because he was created to worship, he created gods (idols) with his own hands from material sourced from nature and worshipped them.
God’s gracious salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work of salvation brought man back into the right relationship with God and man was given a new heart and spirit and affection to worship God as expected Luke 2: 71-75. God also gave commandments and charges that would help man have a lasting fellowship with God if obeyed, among which are the commandments and charges on thanksgiving.
The Scripture made us know that worship can become false or untrue mechanical and mere lips rendition when it is not from the heart in connection with God; this turns worship to mere lip service which is unacceptable to God. For worship to be true and acceptable to God it must be borne out from a heart of faith, obedience and love for God. Gratitude is a response of faith, obedience and love. Gratitude conditions the heart for true worship as demanded by God. A thankful heart is a worshiping heart. Heartfelt love and gratitude for God’s person, works, acts, words and all we have received and all that is ours in the present and in the future could be said to be the mechanism that spurs us to worship God wholeheartedly. A grateful heart is a spring well that swells and bubbles out reverence, praises, prayers, intercessions, adorations, do pious work of charity and many other things.
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.