The Highest State of Thankfulness
Author: Yan Wing
Translator: Kaylee Ho
If the difference between man and other animals is cognitive thinking, the greater difference should be thankfulness. However, animals can be thankful as well. For example, pets such as dogs and cats can show thankfulness through their actions. Dogs are more loyal and attached to their owners.
Many loyal dogs stand by their dead owners to the point of dying from starvation. Isn’t this a sign of thankfulness? Therefore, if people are not thankful, they are worse than beasts.
“Thank you” should be the first phrase you learn from a new language. It is also the most popular phrase for communication. When you walk into a department store, there will often be one or two courteous greeters at the door who will say “thank you” to everyone who comes in and out. You say thank you when someone provides some services to you. A cashier at a supermarket or a waiter at a restaurant will say thank you for your payment. “Thank you” has become a commercial or pet phrase in these situations.
Sometimes, “thank you” can even be sarcastic. For example, when someone is unhappy about someone else’s words or deeds, he or she might say “thank you” in a sarcastic tone.
On the other hand, sometimes a simple expression of thank you is never enough to show your gratitude towards your gracious giver.
We do not know how Adam and his wife, the first ancestors of man, expressed their thankfulness to God the Creator. Yet the lessons of thanksgiving are recorded in the annals of history and everyone must learn them. The first sacrifice that man offers to God is the thank offering (Leviticus 7:12; 22:29; 2 Chronicles 33:16; Psalm 56:12). Gratitude is the natural affectionate expression of the created being to the Creator. We should humbly thank God for our harvest as a result of the free sunshine and rain. Isn’t everyone moved by the famous painting, “The Angelus” by Jean-François Millet? How about the bitter image of Christ shedding his blood for man on the cross? The greatest difference between man and beasts is gratitude toward the Creator.
As for Satan and his followers, who retort grace with revenge, are evil and full of wickedness. There is an unexpected meaning of “thank you” that no man has ever thought of; at least not before Christ Jesus resurrected.
Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-48).
Christ added extra weight to a moral standard that was already difficult for man to reach. Christ’s new moral standard is: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you”. This is too difficult. Love those who should be hated; pray for those who should be cursed. This completely subverts the normal emotions of people. It is impossible for man to do it, but Christ did it for us on the cross. If a person is willing to take up the cross for the Lord, he can do it. But the key lies in our hearts to fulfill Christ’s new moral standard – the heart to love the enemy who should be hated; to pray for those who persecute you. Of course, Christ does not want us to act mechanically. Rather, he wants us to achieve this high moral behavior with our hearts. But how? It’s to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you with a thankful heart. This is the highest level of thankfulness. We ordinary people and sinners are powerless. We might be able to do this on the outside but not from our hearts.
In fact, Jesus has fulfilled this high moral standard. People hate me, but I still want to thank them; People persecute me, I will also thank them. Can ordinary people do this? Of course not. The Lord wants us to be “perfect people”. He wants to raise the level of our character and let us reach a new level of Holy love by relying on His cross, so that we too can reach this new state of thankfulness.