What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. (Psalms 116:12-14)
The phrase “attitude of gratitude” is one you will often hear Bro. Gary Moline use in his offertory prayers. The phrase is certainly biblical and a really good time to use it is just before we give our tithes and offerings. This thought is contemplated by the psalmist in Psalm 116 as he asked, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”
This is a great question since we are too often prone to ask, “What shall I complain to the Lord about all the problems I have?” This seems to be our primary thought when we go to the Lord in prayer. There is always some trouble that fills our mind so that our purpose in praying is only to lift up our complaints. We ignore prayer unless there is a problem just like many people ignore church until they figure things are so bad they had better resort to church attendance as their last best hope. Prayer is often viewed the same way.
In teaching the model prayer, Jesus said God knows every problem before we have a chance to tell Him. We do not bring Him any information He has not already considered. In fact, He brings many of our trials upon us to teach us to trust Him. The model prayer teaches that before making any petitions we should express glory to the name of God. We do this in several ways, among which is thanking Him for being our benefactor in His providential care of our lives. In this way, we acknowledge His sovereign control and remember we cannot exist a minute without Him.
The psalmist goes on to say how he will show his appreciation for the Lord’s benefits. He knew it is impossible to repay the Lord, but the Lord is not really looking for repayment. His benefits are by His free grace bestowed because of love. This is all the more incentive to show our appreciation. How would the psalmist show his gratitude? He began by thinking of the wonderful gift of salvation. It is hard to imagine anyone saved by God’s grace could be forgetful of this, but this is precisely what Peter described in 2 Peter 1:9. He said some have forgotten they were purged from their old sins. Their sins kept them from God’s favor, and yet it is to the old sins they return. The forgiveness of sin brought us into right relationship with God and turned His wrath away from us. Forgiveness removed all legal claims for punishment. How can we not be grateful for His salvation? What shall I render to God? First, my undying thankfulness for the salvation of my soul.
The second action of the psalmist verifies the first. The demonstration of thanksgiving is obedience to His commands. The Jews expressed their gratefulness by taking vows in which they promised certain acts of service. These vows were to be strictly observed. In like manner, we must strictly observe our vows to God. The first vow is the one made in baptism. Baptism is the acknowledgment of our belief in the atoning sacrifice of Christ. It is also a vow that we have died to our old way of life and we will no longer allow the old life to control us. We are risen to walk in the new life of Christ. In other words, in your baptism you promised to obey Christ as the Lord of your life.
There are also times we make vows that are bargaining chips to receive something from God. We do not need to make these vows but nevertheless if we do, we had better be sure to fulfill them. In Old Testament times, it was good to make a vow. It showed willingness to surrender to the Lord in service. The idea of it was good but the idea became very bad if there was no follow through. The scripture says it is better not to make a vow than to make one and not perform it (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).
The most important point for today is to show gratitude by honoring Christ with faithful service. No one likes ungrateful people, and neither does God. Stop complaining for a while and show an attitude of gratitude. God is pleased when we remember His abundant mercies.
Pastor V. Mark Smith