As we have considered the biblical exhortation to thankfulness, we have reflected on the need to fight for thankfulness and then, yesterday, discussed the first of several things that every Christian should be thankful for: creation. Today, I want to touch on a second evidence of grace for which every Christian should be thankful: God’s love.
The psalmist wrote, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1–3). “Steadfast love” in the Old Testament translates a word that refers to God’s specific, covenant-making, covenant-keeping love. This covenant love endures forever, writes the psalmist, which motivates our gratitude. Here are five reasons to be thankful this morning for God’s enduring, covenant love.
First, in his covenant love, God gave you life. God breathed life into the first man’s nostrils (Genesis 2:7) and has given the breath of life to every human being since then (Nehemiah 9:6; Job 33:4; Acts 17:25; 1 Timothy 6:13; etc.). You exist only by his good pleasure. Every human life is a gift from God. The very fact that you woke up this morning and are breathing and are reading this is reason to be thankful.
Second, in his covenant love, God sustains your life. As he pleaded with God, Job said, “You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit” (10:12). He knew that he was utterly dependent on God for continued sustenance. Not only does he give to all people “life and breath” but also “all things” (Acts 17:25). As hard as you work and as wisely as you invest and as health-conscious as you are, your life is sustained only by the good pleasure of the God who created you and gave you life. Every breath you take and every beat of your heart is a gift of God and for which you should be profoundly thankful.
Third, in his covenant love, God gave you new life. He was under no obligation to save you but, in his love, he chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined you for adoption. In love, he redeemed you through Christ’s blood, graciously forgiving your sins and lavishing grace on you (Ephesians 1:3–14). What greater reason do we have for thankfulness than the gift of Jesus Christ, who saved us from our sins? “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Fourth, in his covenant love, God gives you purpose in life. Writing of God’s gracious salvation granted through faith alone in Christ alone, Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8–10). Not only did God plan to save you, but he planned to make you a useful citizen of his kingdom. He gave you gifts and placed you in a community to serve him. He gives you opportunity to build on the foundation that is Christ and will reward you for the gold, silver, and precious stones that you build by your faithful serve to him in and through the local church (1 Corinthians 3:10–15). If you are a Christian, you do not lead a purposeless existence. God prepared you for good works, which he intends for you to carry out within the context of the church. Thank God this morning for the purpose he has lovingly given you in life.
Fifth, in his covenant love, God promises you eternal life. The life that you have received in Christ will endure forever. Because of Christ, you will not perish but will inherit eternal life (John 3:16). Because of Christ, you will not experience the deathly wages of sin but will receive the free gift of God, which is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). Christ, through the gospel, gives you not only life, but also immortality (2 Timothy 1:10). What greater privilege can we possibly imagine than the gift of immortality? How can we possibly neglect gratitude for this immeasurable gift?
As you reflect on Psalm 136:1–3 this morning, intentionally thank God for his steadfast love. Be grateful that he gave life, that he sustains life, that he gave new life, that he gave purpose in life, and that he promises eternal life.