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Many years ago, I talked with a man at a funeral whom I had known from back in the days when we both attended the same church. I don’t recall how we got to the topic, but I remember that he asked why he shouldn’t get credit for his condition in life because, after all, he had done a lot of work to get there. Perhaps he was referring to something the pastor had said in his message.

I didn’t know at that time how to respond. His defense sat in my brain for quite a while. His argument made sense. It was true, wasn’t it, that people who succeed do so because they apply themselves to the job before them. They do well and are financially rewarded. One might even say that God blessed the work of their hands. What’s wrong with that?

However, I came to understand that several things are wrong with that. To start with, common sense tells us that impoverished folks work hard, too. So, the “work hard” answer for success fails from the outset.

However, the more vital problem lies within Scripture and our knowledge of God. Many people credit their success, although they would probably deny it if asked, to the belief that they are simply superior to others. This is pride—which God hates, I should add. Taking credit for one’s abilities discounts God’s creation, will, and grace in all things. Both the fellow I talked with that day and I did not realize that God, in creating us, gave us beating hearts, inflatable lungs, hands, feet, brains, and a host of organs that enabled us to perform our hard work.

The Lord gifts us with certain physical abilities. Intelligence. Athleticism. Artistic talents. We do not decide in the womb how tall we will be or how athletically proficient. We do not choose to be skillful in art, science, or math. God, in His wisdom, gives us certain gifts, and refuses us others. To take credit for these gifts and to look down upon people because of them is prideful and rejects God as our Creator. Others may say that our talents are due to luck. There is no god of “luck” that determines our skill and destinies. No, God is in control of all things, as Job understood. “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).1  

Thus, when we do not believe that it is God who creates and gifts us, but that we are “lucky” or somehow have been rightly endowed with some kind of superiority, we do not give thanks to Him. This lack of thankful acknowledgement is not a good place to reside. Paul wrote,  

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20–21).

So, the truth of Scripture is that everyone clearly perceives and knows God is the Creator. However, despite this, we do not honor Him or give Him thanks. Our thinking is futile. We are foolish. Our hearts are darkened.

When one gives thanks to God for all things, we are acknowledging that the Lord God Almighty is the sovereign ruler of everything. Our health. Our jobs. Our provision, small or great. The water we drink, and the food we eat. The country, city, and family in which we live. Keep in mind giving thanks for the country in which one was born and lives holds true regardless of election outcomes.

Peter wrote that, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3).

All things.

Let us not be prideful. Let us not dishonor God and thus become futile in our thinking and our foolish hearts darkened. This is not a desirable place to live, if one can call it life.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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