The book of Revelation records the words of a song that is sung in heaven: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created" (Revelation 4:11 NKJV).
We were created to bring pleasure to God. Yet how many people today actually live in such a way as to bring pleasure to their Creator? In reality, most people are living to bring pleasure to themselves, but they rarely find it.
Still, the Bible gives us admonition after admonition to give glory, praise, and thanks to God. Here are just a few of them:
Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 106:1 NKJV)
And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17 NKJV)
Therefore by Him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV)
There are times when it is a sacrifice to offer praise to God, quite frankly, because we don't really want to praise Him. When we are down or depressed or things aren't going that well, we don't really feel like praising the Lord. Maybe calamity has come into our lives. Maybe we are sick, or tragedy has struck.
But the Bible does not say, "Give thanks unto the Lord when you feel good." Rather it says, "Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good." We praise God because He is worthy, regardless of what we're going through, regardless of how we feel.
In Luke 17, we find the importance of giving thanks in a story about ten men who were miraculously touched by Jesus. These particular men were outcasts of society. They had leprosy. In the culture of Jesus' day, you couldn't have sunk any lower than this. But He went out of His way to touch these men and heal them of this dreaded disease. When only one returned to give thanks and praise to God, Jesus made a provocative statement. It really was in the form of a question: " 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?' " (v. 17 NKJV).
In many ways, I think God is still asking this question today, because that is how we can be. We cry out to Him. He answers our prayer. Then way say, "It's okay, God. Everything seemed to work out." Do we ever stop to think that it was God who worked through certain circumstances?
We should put as much zeal in thanking God for what He has done as we put into pleading with Him when we are in need. This is what the man who was healed of leprosy did: he gave praise to God for all that had taken place. Sadly, this doesn't happen enough.
There was a hospital chaplain who kept a record of some 2,000 patients he had visited, all who seemed to be in a dying condition, and all who showed signs of repentance. Among those who were restored to health, he felt that only two showed a marked change in their spiritual lives after their recoveries.
In other words, when the patients thought they were about to die, they were repentant. But after they were okay, they forgot about God. So many of us are like that. What would you think of a person who was always asking you for things, but never offered a word of thanks in return? We can be that way with God, can't we? "God, do this." "God, do that." Then God grants our requests, and we forget to give Him thanks.
Jesus asked, "Where are the other nine?" I wonder if He would ask that same question of us today. Would He find those who were quick to call on Him in a crisis actually returning to thank Him? I hope so. We should give God thanks for everything He has done for us, because Scripture commands us to praise and worship Him. After all, this is why we exist.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!