John 1:14 says that Jesus came from the Father full of grace and truth. Full of grace and full of truth. In other words Jesus’ glory was that He both lived in and lived out His father’s grace and truth, and He did it perfectly.
We are told in 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT), all of us who [have called on Jesus as our Savior] can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. One way to describe this change is that God is transforming us into a people who, like Jesus, are full of grace and truth.
What does that look like? What does a life look like when it is living in and living out God’s grace and truth? Well, that certainly means being thankful.
Twelve times in that Psalm we are commanded to give thanks to the God of Heaven. God’s people were encouraged in this Psalm to focus their thanks around the ways that God had shown His love for them to be faithful and unending. He showed his love for them in:
- The care and majesty revealed in creation.
- In doing mighty works and miracles.
- Saving His people from Egypt.
- Delivering their enemies into their hands and giving them the Promised Land.
Christians are grateful people. Christians should be the most grateful people on the face of the earth. Why should we be thankful? Gratitude is the proper response to receiving grace. Gratitude and grace come from the same Latin root gratis. Gratitude is the response to getting something gratis, by grace. Psalm 136 gives us four ways in which God’s grace is given to us.
Grace for forgiveness. Why is it that it is so easy for us to remember the bad and forget the good that comes our way? Why is it that we are so quick to complain in frustration and anger when difficulty comes and so slow to humbly come before God and say “my life is yours I lay myself at Your Holy and righteous feet?” The answer is that we are not often conscious of how badly we need the grace of forgiveness.
One of the reasons that David, who wrote this Psalm of Thanksgiving, was called “a man after God’s own hart” was because he knew the state of his own heart. The brightness of our gratitude is determined by the owning the deep darkness within our souls. The more we see how low we were without Christ, the more we will gladly thank Him for the heights which forgiveness brings us.
Without the grace of God in Christ there is no way to peace with God, no entering heaven, no hope for anything but God’s fair and just judgment against us. When you own that fact, that as Charles Spurgeon said, “when sinners are saved, it is only and solely because God will do it to magnify his free, unpurchased, unsought grace,” your heart will not be able to dam up the river of gratitude that flows out from your soul.
Grace for provision. God promises and provides everything we need for a godly life. Even when we have seasons of loss or want or difficulty they often end up being the times that God shows us his power to provide what we obviously cannot provide for ourselves.
David could say, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me. Even when God’s judgment came against His people in the destruction of Jerusalem, the burning of His Temple, and the exile of His people to Babylon, Jeremiah could say in the midst of his tears, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
This afternoon God will make good on that promise to hundreds of people in our community who do not have the means to have a Thanksgiving dinner. Today He will remember the poor, the elderly, the lonely, the widow, and the orphan, by giving them food, clothing, and fellowship in abundance. God’s grace provides all that we need. When we own that, when we remember what God says to us in Deuteronomy 8,
When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you… Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ …Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.
Grace for deliverance. God in His grace delivers us from our enemies. Sometimes our enemies are people as is expressed in this Psalm. Sometimes our enemy is illness. Sometimes our enemy is material or financial need. Whatever the enemy, God in His grace delivers us from them.
God tells us plainly in Psalm 50:15, Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. Not “I might.” Not “I’ll think about it.” Not “If I’m not too busy.” I will deliver you! God never says to His people “you seek Me in vain” (Isaiah 45:19). This should move us to great expressions of thankfulness.
Grace for assurance. The role of thankfulness is to encourage us to look forward to the future. His love endures forever. Because of what God has done in the past, we can count on Him for today, tomorrow, and forever.
Christian, are you thankful? Are you aware of how much grace God has showered into your life? Do you understand how desperate your case was that the cost to redeem you was the life of the Son of God? There is no higher price that God could pay. Yet He paid it and paid it willingly, freely, joyfully!
Maybe you have not yet experienced firsthand the grace that I am talking about. Maybe you have been thinking that life is all about the things, accomplishments, and good times. I think that is what the world is saying we should believe.
But maybe like the prodigal son you are looking around at your life and you realize that it isn’t at all about the gifts. It’s about the Giver. Without that grace, grace for forgiveness, grace for provision, grace for deliverance, grace for assurance, there is little to truly be grateful for.
Take hold of that grace now. Own the condition of your heart and your need for forgiveness. Own up to the fact that you are not in a position to provide all of your own needs let alone the needs of your family. Trade your worry and anxiety for assurance that God will always love you, provide for you, and deliver you. His love endures forever. Don’t wait another day, don’t wait another minute. God is offering grace for you right now. Take it. Experience the grace that grows gratitude.