How Will You Give Thanks for His Loving-kindness?
1, 2. (a) How valuable is our life, but what did David say in Psalm 63:3 about life? (b) In what sense was that so? (Job 14:1, 2; Jas. 4:14)
WHAT could be more precious than your life? Without it you could not enjoy or benefit from any possessions. With this in mind, note that the psalmist David, in melody, said to Jehovah God: “Your loving-kindness is better than life.”—Ps. 63:3.
2 David was saying that he would rather lose his life than lose Jehovah’s favor. All that David might possess or enjoy in the everlasting future depended on God. Also, David knew of the many instances when Jehovah had shown him compassion and loyal support. This was all evidence of God’s loving-kindness. So to David that loving-kindness was more important than present temporal life as a human. (1 Chron. 29:14, 15) Is this how it is also with you? Is not the loving-kindness, or loyal love, of the One who can give you eternal life more precious than mortal life that is ‘here today and gone tomorrow’?
3. What action did David take in response to Jehovah’s loving-kindness, and what can we fittingly ask ourselves?
3 David, though, did not merely sense the value of Jehovah’s loving-kindness and leave it at that. Notice how he responded: “Because your loving-kindness is better than life, my own lips will commend you. Thus I shall bless you during my lifetime.” (Ps. 63:3, 4) Yes, his deep gratitude for that loving-kindness moved him to utter praise and thanks to God. As the previous article discussed, we personally have many reasons to thank Jehovah for his loving-kindness. Hence, thanking and praising him should be an integral part of our lives. Is it with you? May a whole day or more go by without your thinking of God and bringing him up in conversation? Or do you often speak about Jehovah, spontaneously praising him for what he is and for what he does? Do you find that you daily reflect the sentiment of Psalm 107:21, 22?
4. How is our proclaiming the good news necessary in this regard?
4 Unquestionably, one way in which to thank Jehovah for his loving-kindness is by speaking to others who are not yet worshiping him. (Acts 14:1-3; 20:24) The message of the good news can be lifesaving for them. Rightly, then, we are pleased to preach the good news widely.—Rom. 10:9-15.
5. (a) Why might we be witnessing about negative matters? (b) Why is some of such information nevertheless appropriate?
5 True Christians know that what most persons have learned about God and the Bible consists of false doctrines and corruptions of the Bible’s teachings. Hence, we could unwittingly allow our witnessing to be dominated by negatives. Ask yourself how common it is in your witnessing to dwell on what the Bible does not teach—that it does not teach a triune God or a burning hell, that man does not have an immortal soul and that the earth will not be burned up. (John 14:28; Ezek. 18:4; Eccl. 9:5, 10; 1:4) True, persons to whom we witness need help in correcting their wrong beliefs. And our pointing out error may aid them to distinguish between true religion and the false. But we should take care that we do not talk about almost nothing but negatives.
6. Why should our public declaration include many positives?
6 Our “public declaration” ought to include many positive things about Jehovah, for we are offering a “sacrifice of praise.” (Heb. 13:15; compare Psalm 107:21, 22.) For instance, we can stress what Jehovah IS. We can show that ‘he alone is the Most High.’ (Ps. 83:18) We can explain that truly knowing him and his Son can bring eternal life. (John 17:3) And we can focus on some of his superb qualities that can draw persons to him—his mercy, unsurpassed wisdom, understanding, generosity, faithfulness and, certainly, his loving-kindness.—Deut. 32:4; Jas. 1:17; Ps. 84:11.
7. How can we highlight God’s loving-kindness, and with what result?
7 Each of us should examine his own “public declaration” to see how he might give more emphasis to these positive aspects. For example, as you conduct a regular Bible study with your family or others, could you somehow highlight God’s loving-kindness? In discussing some Bible incident or an aspect of God’s purpose, you can, just briefly, explain what is illustrated about our God. Or you might ask the student what the point being discussed helps him to understand about Jehovah. Doing so will bring the student closer to Jehovah, making God more real and personal for him, stimulating him to learn more about this wonderful God and to praise him.—Ps. 147:1, 11.
GIVING THANKS IN OUR CONVERSATION
8. At what other times can we thank Jehovah for his loving-kindness?
8 Talking about Jehovah and his loving-kindness is not just for occasions when we are trying to teach persons Bible truths. What about daily conversation? Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) If we truly appreciate God’s loving-kindness, that ought to show up in our daily speech. This was so with the psalmist who wrote: “It is good to give thanks to Jehovah and to make melody to your name, O Most High; to tell in the morning about your loving-kindness and about your faithfulness during the nights.”—Ps. 92:1, 2.
9. (a) What is the common view about mentioning God? (b) How is this in contrast with our attitude? (Ps. 107:31, 32)
9 You may have noticed that most persons, even churchgoers who claim to worship God, are not inclined to speak of him or his purposes. And they are particularly reluctant to express any personal involvement with God; to do so is viewed as unsophisticated or embarrassing. In part, this tendency may be due to the fact that they are, indeed, not personally involved with God. Yet, in view of how widespread this disinclination is, we can ask ourselves, ‘Have I been influenced by the world’s reluctance to speak about being involved with God or to show in conversation that he is part of my life and thinking?’ Jehovah certainly is part of our lives and should be in our thoughts. We regularly seek his blessing and guidance. So we should not hesitate to speak of him, referring to him in our conversation and indicating our interest in his acts and purposes.
10. What Scriptural counsel bears on our speaking about God regularly?
10 Of course, we want to avoid giving a self-righteous impression. Remember, it is not difficult for persons to sense artificial or affected religiousness. Jesus condemned hypocritical Jewish religious leaders for displaying piety merely to be seen and heard. (Matt. 6:1-5) Yet the Bible does urge us to praise and thank Jehovah constantly. So, while heeding the counsel of Matthew 6:1-5 and taking care not to sound self-righteous, we speak about him. With modesty and conviction we can mention his dealings and ways, which include how he has dealt with us or how we are involved with him.
11. What opportunities do we have to bring God into our conversation in line with Psalm 34:1?
11 During the day you probably talk about many subjects with your family, Christian friends and others either in school, at work or in the neighborhood. Perhaps the situation lends itself to speaking of God in a sincere and natural manner. Are you talking about a trip to relax at the seashore or mountains and to enjoy Jehovah’s creation? You appreciate the natural beauty and restfulness of what he has made, so why not mention that?
12. How can we speak about God when conversing with persons who are not true worshipers?
12 Even if you are conversing with an unbeliever, with discretion you may be able to speak of God, briefly mentioning, for example, the pleasure you derive from the things that your Creator has made. (Acts 4:24; 14:15) No one should be surprised that God comes up in your general conversation, for is he not on your mind as to what you do or refrain from doing? Someone might speak with you about how you train your children, noting your success. Could your reply include a brief expression of thankfulness to God for his counsel that enables a person to be wise in this field? (Ps. 19:7) Perhaps a workmate comments on your spending vacation time to attend a Christian convention instead of using it all for “pleasure.” You could sincerely reply that you enjoy learning more about the loving-kindness and will of your Maker. (Ps. 100:3-5) We never know the good effect such brief remarks might have, perhaps starting someone thinking about God. But we do not mention God only because a listener might be helped. We speak of God and his deeds because it is in our hearts and thus on our tongues.—Ps. 45:1.
13. (a) Why should mentioning God be even more natural when we converse with fellow worshipers? (b) What are some ways to do this?
13 If, as good taste and modesty permit, we mention God often in conversing with unbelievers, how understandable it is that we do so frequently when talking to those who serve God. We feel greater ease in speaking with fellow Christians about our activities, plans, impressions, and so on. Accordingly in such conversation should we not be inclined to mention God and his dealings, as Psalm 92:1, 2 says? Perhaps work is being done on the Kingdom Hall. You could express your appreciation for God’s blessing on the congregation. We receive a new Bible study aid. If you sincerely view it as evidence of Jehovah’s loving-kindness, why not mention that in conversation. What about the interesting new explanations in it? Happily speak of these with your brothers, doing so with a modesty that avoids giving a self-righteous impression. Interspersing spiritual matters in your conversation will upbuild all.
ALERT TO SEE REASONS FOR GRATITUDE
14. We need to cultivate what outlook regarding God’s goodness?
14 What if someone gave you a dish of sand with some tiny iron particles mixed in? It would be hard to pick out the iron specks. But you could easily collect them with a magnet. A heart that is full of gratitude to Jehovah is like that magnet. With such a heart, every day we can easily pick out numerous examples of his kindness and generosity, more valuable than iron, more precious even than gold. Being alert to evidences of God’s goodness will make it easy and natural to praise him and express thanks for these.—Prov. 3:3, 4, 13-18.
15. What are examples of things for which we can thank Jehovah? (Eph. 5:20)
15 Jehovah’s creation that we see daily is simply full of things that can remind us of his kind provisions for mankind in general. Perhaps you see two kittens tumbling in the grass. You cannot help but chuckle over their playful antics. Does that lead you to think of Jehovah and the delight he must have with his creation? The Bible says he is a “happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11) So when watching kittens, otters or other animals play, will you call to mind God’s sense of pleasure and humor? What about the refreshing taste of a crisp apple or a delicious melon on a hot day? (Ps. 145:8, 15-17) As to delightful scents, do you recall the fragrance of certain flowers or the aroma of freshly cut hay or clover? When enjoying such things, is it not appropriate to utter thanks to Jehovah for his thoughtfulness in providing us with our senses and such wonderful things to enjoy?
16. Being alert to and mentioning God’s goodness can have what effect on others?
16 A family in upstate New York was in the middle of a meal when the four-year-old son spoke up on his own, saying: “Mommy, isn’t it good that Jehovah put our face on the front so we can eat.” While that lad was speaking out of his youthful innocence, he certainly was not taking things for granted. His open and sincere comment helped all around him to think about Jehovah and appreciate more what he has done. Our comments about God’s loving-kindness that we experience while serving him can do the same.
BROADENING OUT IN SONG AND PRAYER
17, 18. (a) How did the Israelites use song in giving thanks? (b) What does Mark 14:26 indicate that Jesus and the apostles did? (Acts 16:25)
17 Another avenue for giving thanks to Jehovah for his loving-kindness is that of song. Singing has long been a feature of true worship. (Ex. 15:1-21; Ps. 1–150; 2 Chron. 29:27; Rev. 15:3, 4) At the temple in Jerusalem certain Levites were privileged to play music while others sang. The content and objective of their efforts is noteworthy. The Bible says that they were “to call to remembrance and to thank and praise Jehovah the God of Israel.” Why? “Because ‘to time indefinite is his loving-kindness.’”—1 Chron. 16:4, 41, 42; 9:33.
18 In this connection, have you ever thought of Jesus and the apostles as singers? They were, and they enjoyed it. Mark 14:26 tells us that on their last night together on earth they sang praises. Customarily Jews sang Psalms 113 through 118 during the Passover meal. So it is probable that Jesus and the faithful eleven apostles concluded that meal by singing Psalm 118, which both begins and ends: “Give thanks to Jehovah, you people, for he is good; for his loving-kindness is to time indefinite.”
19. What should our attitude be toward congregational singing? (Eph. 5:18, 19)
19 Christians today, too, have opportunity to express through song their praise and thanks to Jehovah for his loving-kindness. Is that how you view the songs based on Bible themes that you sing at the local meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Or do you find that during the singing you are doing other things? Or are your lips saying the words while your mind is on other matters? It is easy for this to occur. But how fine if, instead, we view these Christian songs as a means of giving thanks to Jehovah for his loving-kindness!
20. (a) What part should prayer have in thanking God for his loving-kindness? (Col. 1:9-12) (b) According to Daniel 6:10, how is Daniel a good example of this for us?
20 Prayer is another way in which we can thank Jehovah for his loving-kindness. Likely you pray regularly. But could you broaden out as respects thanking and praising God in prayer? It is so easy to get into the practice of just asking him for things, for ourselves, our family, our congregation and others. If you are a parent you are pleased, no doubt, when your children seek your advice and help. Yet how would you feel if your child said: “Dad, I want to tell you how very much we children love you. You are firm, and we respect you for that, but you are also loving. You are our best friend.” Knowing how pleased you would be to hear such a sincere expression, how do you think God feels when we include thanks and praise in our prayers? The prophet Daniel set us a fine example in this. The Bible pointedly mentions that he praised God in prayer.—Dan. 6:10.
21. How can our prayers express more than generalities?
21 It is good in our prayers to be specific about God’s goodness toward us. Have you ever listened to a child pray and heard him thank God for the chocolate ice cream, the boat ride he enjoyed or for his school vacation? Can we not be specific, too, rather than thanking God simply in generalities? If you have had a fine experience in the preaching work, specifically thank God for it. If you received a gift, you likely thanked the person who gave it to you. But what about thanking the One who has made all things? Have you discerned the Bible’s counsel on some weighty problem? Express your thanks in prayer. And when you are privileged to represent others in prayer, why not mention distinct, specific examples of God’s blessing for which all of you are thankful.—Ps. 42:8.
22. By way of a review, in what ways can we thank Jehovah for his loving-kindness, reflecting what sentiments?
22 Undeniably there are many evidences of God’s loving-kindness shown us as his approved servants. We can observe them daily if we are alert to them. (Ps. 107:43) And each of us can gratefully respond by speaking of our God. How? When? In our preaching and teaching work. In general conversation with fellow Christians and others. And in song and prayer. Yes, though we are yet awaiting the time when all creation will unitedly praise Jehovah as Psalm 150 describes, we personally can have a full share in doing that right now. Thus we will reflect the sentiments David expressed in Psalm 59:16, 17: “As for me, I shall sing of your strength, and in the morning I shall joyfully tell about your loving-kindness. . . . O my Strength, to you I will make melody, for God is my secure height, the God of loving-kindness to me.”