“For all things are for, your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”
It is a wonder that we give thanks to God.
The wonder lies in the words, “all things are for your sakes.” This is a hard saying, who can understand it? Without understanding it there is no thanksgiving.
All things are on account of us!
That which meets the eye seems to contradict.
I see a father turn his head from his wrecked auto, the stains on the front seat lurch out at him, shocking him with reality, his helpmeet is dead. For your sakes!
Glance a moment into a hospital room, take note of the silent tears of a mother that gave birth to her first-born child,—dead. Lying in the next bed is another mother who delivered her sixth healthy child. Words cannot express the feverish anguish of the tormented soul. For your sakes!
A father stands at the door waving good-bye to his son, leaving for battle. Many never saw their sons again. For your sakes!
Listen to the fire crackle, swiftly it consumes the frail frame of a dying saint. History is replete with such scenes. For your sakes!
Amazing, all things for your sakes! His ways are past finding out.
We must exclude nothing from its scope.
There are moments of spring-time; they are filled with cheer. The buds of childhood blossom into the fragrance of youth. It does one’s heart good to step into school and behold the youth of the church learning the fear of the Lord. The soul of man breathes in buoyant spirit as he sows the grain, nurtures the seedlings, and harvests the bounty. Smiles mark the face of a mother that is able to arise each day with the task before her, and she has the strength to accomplish it. Our hearts flutter with ecstasy as we gather in church and are greeted, “Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ, our help is in the name of Jehovah who made heaven and earth.” All for our sakes!
Winter time is markedly drear. Go to the hospital and view the panorama of death. The bottle of tears overflows there. Drive past the Funeral Home, its lights are burning a full 15 hours a day. If you stop there you will see death in its naked reality. The gaping jaws of the grave are about to close, and we shudder. A farmer looks over the field of corn standing 3 feet high on the “Fourth”; a few moments later the awesome rattle of hail reduces his dreams to a vapor. One mighty nation explodes the “big bomb,” and the whole earth is rocked to its foundation. All these things are for your sakes.
Amazing, but there is still more.
All these things are for our sakes in order that we may give thanks to God! It seems reasonable to thank God with a smile on our faces, but to thank God through tear-stained eyes appears contradictory.
Thanksgiving is a wonder!
What is thanksgiving?
In a word it is telling God that He is good. In thanking God our lips burst forth with melody, our hearts are lifted up in spiritual ecstasy as we acknowledge God’s greatness and faithfulness. This implies that we must be very spiritual in our thanksgiving. The heart of the thankful is near to the heart of God. He is filled with the consciousness that there is no God like unto Jehovah. The swelling tide of the love of God pours from the flood gates of the soul and sings, “Give thanks to God, for good is He, His grace abideth ever.” Mark the thankful, take notice that he is filled with the overwhelming consciousness of his own weakness, his attention is focused upon Jehovah.
Such thanks is not conditioned upon external circumstances.
Has the Lord blessed you with a comfortable life? You have reason to thank Him! Consider your blessings. Add up your material assets, it may surprise you how much you have. Think upon the health that the Lord has given to each of us. Above all, consider that you are not a rich fool! Many there are who are building for themselves a little kingdom, greedily tearing down their barns and building bigger; but the Lord comes silently in the night watches and casts their soul into the unquenchable fire. Their children piously weep and lay the body in the grave, but soon they run for the inheritance like blinded swine and drown in the river of death. What folly! Thank God that we are not that way. Let’s sing sincerely, “All that I am I owe to Thee, thy wisdom Lord hath fashioned me.” Give thanks that we may be Christian stewards in the house of God, recognizing that all material things,—yea life itself,—are given us of God to use in the blessed covenant life with Him.
Has the Lord blessed you with sickness and sorrow? You also have a reason to thank Him! Do not doubt that trials are a blessing. Our Father knows that we are so easily enslaved in the things of this world that we must needs be reminded of our pilgrimage. There is no question, these blessings are difficult for the flesh. One that lies in the hospital looks enviously at people walking by. Tears flow as we turn away from the grave. A father’s heart is anxious when he returns home having searched all day in vain for work. Yet, our God never tries us above that which we are able to bear; He provides us with sustaining grace. This truth is learned however, only with groanings. God makes us helpless sometimes, to teach us that He is God. It is then we turn in true faith to Him, see ourselves naked and undeserving sinners and sing, “The loving-kindness of my God is more than life to me.” Difficult days are spiritually rewarding; they are for our profit. For that we also thank God.
Thanksgiving is not of the natural man. It is a wonder.
By nature we are no different from the world round about us, a world that cannot give thanks. According to our flesh we like to boast when we prosper. In our pride we think we deserve a comfortable life because we are clever business men, we know how to manage our affairs, we live a sane life and get along well with people. We so easily forget God! With that attitude there is no thanksgiving. In days of sickness and trial we begin to feel sorry for ourselves, we grumble and complain. Then too, we forget God and in that frame of mind cannot give thanks. No, it is not natural to give thanks, it is a wonder!
The wonder of thanksgiving is a wonder of grace.
So our text tells us, “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”
Grace triumphs over sin.
Sin is ugliness. No matter how you look at sin or whatever point of view you take, the conclusion is always the same, it is ugly. Scripture draws a horrible picture of the sinner! Look at the lepers that dwelled outside Israel. Plagued with putrifying sores, their bodies were corrupted with a “living” death. As the disease spread through the body, its wiry fingers grasped for the vital organs that it might choke off life. No wonder they had to cry out, “Unclean, unclean”. They were a cast-off people, repulsive in the eyes of the masses. God placed those lepers in Bible times as a graphic portrayal of the corruption and guilt of our sin. We are lepers before God.
Grace is beauty. God is the gracious God, most beautiful in Himself and the fountain of all beauty. I cannot pretend to describe all the beauty of God; now we see through a glass darkly. God has revealed His beauty unto us in earthly form. In the vastness of His creation and in the sweetness of His Word we are able to discern a little spark of that beauty. We see the beauty of His light, His goodness, His power, His mercy, and so we could go on and on. Most important for our text, God freely decided to work upon the ugly sinner and make him beautiful, yea with such beauty that it would reflect His own! Grace toward the sinner is God’s work whereby He freely takes an ugly, leprous sinner and transforms him into the image of His own beauty. That grace of God is powerful. Consider its earthly reflection when Elisha said to Naaman the leper, “Go and wash in the River Jordan seven times,” and he, obeying, was cured of his leprosy. Jesus said to the ten lepers, “Go, show yourselves to the priest,” and they were healed. So God through our Lord Jesus Christ works in our hearts through the preaching of the gospel and transforms us by the power of His grace.
That grace is abundant.
It is abundant in two ways. The first is that it renews the whole man. Already at the moment of regeneration, the potential of all beauty is capsuled,—as it were, in the seed of the new life. Through the calling of the gospel, God works upon that life quickens it into conscious expression. God channels His grace to us through the means He has ordained, and thus powerfully and efficaciously transforms us into the reflection of His own beauty. That touches our whole being. Our heart is renewed, our mind is enlightened, our will is bent toward God, our hands and feet are commissioned into His service; in one word, we are completely beautified by grace. So abundant is that grace, that our whole man is able principally to live the beautiful life. Still more, that grace is abundant in that it is also able to beautify us in every circumstance. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Whether our life be difficult and we are beset with cares, or whether we prosper in a way the flesh desires, the abundant grace of God is able to keep us beautiful, able to draw us into a vital relationship with God.
Now you see, thanksgiving is a wonder of grace! The effects can be seen not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Behold the child of God who has his barn filled with cattle, his children are healthy and strong, he has all that heart could desire; you see him bend his knee and hear him whisper in ardent prayer, “Thanks, O God, Thou art good.” Beside him kneels the saint with tearful eyes, his heart is heavy; yet he breathes the amazing prayer, “Thanks, O God, Thou art good.” There you see grace in action.
In that way God receives all the glory.
Consider the direction to which our text points us. Beginning in heaven, we see our sovereign God governing all things in such a way that through the resurrection of the body we shall surely be glorified. There is no question about it, “For all things are for your sakes.” In order that we may understand it and live in the conscious joy of our eternal hope, God blesses us with grace. By that grace we know that all things are for our sakes and thank God for it. Through our thanksgiving the grace of God returns unto the Giver and “redounds to His glory.”
God’s blessings always end in God Himself.
That is proper, for He is God!
Do not become proud and say that our thanksgivingadds to God’s glory. That is impossible. God is Himself the most glorious God. The glory of God is the radiation of the sum-total of all God’s virtues. Even as the glory of the sun is radiated against the clouds in the sunset, so God’s glory is radiated in all His revelation. That glory causes one to stand with open mouth and wonder. Before the glory of God we are filled with awe and reverence. It forces us to bend our knee and praise Him. We do not add to God’s glory; we acknowledge it. That is what God had in mind all along. He has that as His eternal purpose. He rejoices when His creatures acknowledge that He and He alone is the glorious God.
We do that when we thank Him. We tell God He is good, and in so doing acknowledge His glory.
Heaven begins in this life.
Such thanksgiving is a wonder, a wonder of grace.