December 2

How to Properly Say Thanks

Psalm 116:12-13 What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

This verse presents a most precious expression of gratitude to God, and is counter-intuitive at the same time. The reference to the cup of salvation is likely a reflection of the offerings brought to God, including drink offerings (Numbers 15:3-5, 10), and most readers or hearers of the time would have heard it in the context of a kind of thank offering. But this small verse tucked in the middle of the psalm offers a prophetic picture of grace and our response to it that only becomes obvious in the light of Jesus Christ.

It opens by asking a simple question: What can I give to God for all that He’s done for me? Before going on, think of some of the answers that come to mind. I can work harder for Him. I can witness to more people. I can do this or that work of service.

Or I can focus more on my sanctification, allowing Him to dig deeper into my soul and my habits. I can “clean up my act” more. I can die to myself more often. I can stop doing this and start doing that (or at least do less of something and more of another).

But what this psalm presents as the appropriate response is not someone doing anything for anyone, or giving anything back. The action the psalmist takes is receiving. He is “taking up the cup of salvation.” The most common reference to a cup in the Old Testament was the cup of God’s wrath. The contrast between that common expression and this one would not have been lost on the original audience. This is not God’s wrath that we are drinking of, but His salvation.

And receiving is the correct and appropriate response of a grateful heart. Since He is the Source of everything we need, our most suitable response is to keep receiving all He has to give us. Salvation is more than just a one-time, “fire insurance” moment in the life of a Christian. It is broad enough to include every good gift that comes with being transferred to the kingdom of God.

We know, of course, that we “receive” salvation; we know we can’t earn it. But we need to keep receiving after first believing. We need to keep receiving His abundant grace, a process He has ordained for us as we grow and learn to obey. We need to receive wisdom (James 3), a process vastly different from figuring things out and working things through in our minds.

The word “receive” is also used for correction, that sometimes-painful process of letting God redirect us and replace our old ways of acting and thinking with His new and vastly improved ones.

What can we do for God to show our gratitude? We can keep receiving from Him!

Prayer: Father, I am so grateful to You for all You’ve done for me. Help me to show my gratitude by staying open to all You have for me. No matter what outward expression of thanks I end up giving, I pray that every action will have its roots in your heart.

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