I sing with gusto when it’s one of my favorite worship songs. Standing in semi-darkness, spotlights bathing the stage, the worship band drawing me into the mood, it is easy to give thanks to God in such an atmosphere. Drums, guitars, and the worship leader breaking into song, all invite me to join them in praise. Voices rise around me, and my heart warms.
I give my best to God on these occasions. Yet, what about praising God at other times in my week and in other ways?
David wrote Psalm 138 as an expression of thanksgiving to God.
I will give thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart before the gods I sing your praise.Psalm 138:1
Yet, the opening verse of this Psalm implies there is more to giving thanks than a warm, fuzzy feeling, or singing praise to God in the vicinity of the temple or at church.
Giving thanks requires our whole hearts.
The Bible describes the heart as the center of our being; the inner most place deep within us (Psalm 103:1). And, Proverbs 4:23 reminds us everything flows from the heart. The heart is the source of our words, our thoughts, and our actions.
So, if we have thankful hearts, then gratitude is evident in what we say, how we think, and what we do.
This is where I have to pause and consider if I am praising God, and giving him my best not just on a Sunday morning, or when I’m playing praise songs in my car, but in everything I think, say, and do.
Too often my thoughts are negative and not positive, my words are filled with grumbling instead of appreciation, and my deeds are selfish instead of generous.
When we look at David’s life, particularly during his time with Saul, we can learn a lot about what a thankful heart, and an unthankful heart, looks like.
A thankful heart yields:
- FAVORABLE THOUGHTS
David trusted God and thanked him for his successes.
You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. You placed my foot on their necks. I have destroyed all who hated me.Psalm 18:39-40 NLT
Saul, on the other hand, should have given thanks to God for David’s successes over Goliath and the Philistines. Instead, Saul let envy flood his heart. He thought of David as a threat (1 Samuel 18:6-8).
To overcome our own jealousies, we should nurture admiration in our hearts for God and others, expressing thanks for other people’s successes.
- FAITHFUL BEHAVIOR
David loyally served God and Saul. Yet, Saul attempted to kill David (1 Samuel 18:10-11). Saul let jealous thoughts become destructive behavior.
Our behavior is unlikely to be drastic as Saul’s. However, we should still nurture love for God and others in our heart, so people can depend on our actions.
- FAVORABLE WORDS
David did not speak badly of Saul. Saul, however, uttered death threats about David to his attendants and to his son, Jonathan. And, Jonathan, in the midst of fear and uncertainty, boldly spoke well of David to his father (1 Samuel 19:1-5).
Let’s nurture encouragement in our hearts. The words we speak must build up rather than tear down.
A thankful heart thinks appreciatively, acts honorably, and speaks boldly before God and in front of other people, so all will know that God is worthy of praise.
I want to not only give you thanks and praise
when I am led to do so by others and at church.
I want my whole life to praise you,
in everything I say, think, and do.
When I’m tempted to dwell on the negative,
prompt me to think about all the
wonderful things you have done for me.
When my actions are destructive to myself and others,
prompt me to act out of love
so others can rely on me.
When I want to tear down others with my words,
prompt me to use words that encourage
and build up the person I’m talking to.
Today, give me a heart that is full of praise.