Giving thanks is a behavioral thing. It’s not just about manners. Paul frames what should be our attitude all year, every day.
Romans 15: 17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.
When writing this epistle, it was to a church in Rome, the capitol of the empire. It was not a likely place for a church right under the Caesar’s nose. In those days most of the world was under the iron hand of Rome. Just like we are headed today, most things were government run. The power of Rome was awesome. People looked at the emperor as if he was a god. Most were cruel. It was a wicked time, yet God’s people flourished and the church grew.
Paul had given up all he had—wealth, position and education. He had a dual citizenship as a Jew and a Roman. He had advantages in being a Pharisee. As a Roman citizen he had benefits. He threw it all away when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. He counted it all as loss to obtain the Excellency of Jesus Christ.
So much happens to us on a daily basis. It has come full circle. Society is now largely in the shape it is in due to ungratefulness and a lack of acknowledging God. This is true in America and all over the world. Rome was self-centered with self-worship. Romans 1:20-22 describes how it was. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Notice the description. When a society forgets God and thanks itself for its blessings, we see the great sin of ungratefulness. An ungrateful heart will go deeper and deeper into sin. The first step to heaven is noticing our own unworthiness. Jesus provided a means of salvation and gives us the opportunity to be forgiven of sins. We can be saved! That’s so much to be thankful for. We lose nothing by choosing Jesus. The opposite is true. We gain everything.
Paul told the Roman Christians not to pay attention to what they didn’t have. The things that pertain to the flesh and this life are fleeting. Their value waxes and wanes like the moon. The things that really matter are those that pertain to God. What we hold from God is valuable. As long as we have Jesus we have enough; we have everything. It’s a good time to stop and forget about what we don’t have. It’s time to consider the “I have’s” because of and through Jesus. Look at what is ahead for the saved. When we consider all we have, can we not just say “thanks?” Our life should be for his glory. Take what God has given you and use it for him.