Grateful for Our Happy Hope
“We wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and the Savior of us, Christ Jesus.”—Titus 2:13.
1, 2. In what two ways can gratitude produce happiness?
HER coworkers knew her to be an efficient, productive and happy secretary. They may have given much of the credit to her training and ability. But when asked about it this perceptive woman focused attention on her employer’s gratefulness. Why?
2 She explained that no matter how small or routine her task, he freely expressed sincere gratitude. She thus felt useful and needed; and she was a happier worker, too. That well illustrates one beneficial result of expressing gratitude. Yet gratitude is beneficial not only for the recipient; it is also good for the person who expresses it, who has developed a spirit of thankfulness.
3. Why should we cultivate a grateful spirit?
3 Today it seems that most persons are primarily concerned about self. That is quite contrary to the spirit of gratitude, in showing which a person thinks of others and readily expresses appreciation for what others do. The paradox is, though, that if you work at cultivating a sincere interest in others and freely express your appreciation for their services, deeds and efforts, you will become happier. Furthermore, developing a spirit of gratitude can have a bearing on your relationship with Jehovah God. It can affect your overall happiness in life now and the extent to which you share in “the happy hope” that the Bible holds before true Christians.—Titus 2:13.
4. What is the Biblical view of being thankful?
4 The Bible urges us to cultivate a spirit of gratitude or thankfulness. For instance, the apostle Paul wrote: “In connection with everything give thanks. For this is the will of God in union with Christ Jesus respecting you.” And he counseled the Colossians: “Let the peace of the Christ control in your hearts, for you were, in fact, called to it in one body. And show yourselves thankful.” (1 Thess. 5:18; Col. 3:15) Though such advice involves especially our gratitude to God, it should suggest to us the value of cultivating a spirit of thankfulness in everyday matters of life.
5. How did Paul display a grateful spirit?
5 Paul himself did not hesitate to express commendation of those who had done good, or to thank them directly. Read his words in Romans 16:1-4. In that passage alone he gratefully commended Phoebe as ‘one who had defended many,’ possibly by using her influence in the community to defend wrongly accused Christians or by displaying hospitality to traveling Christians. Then Paul specifically thanked the married couple Prisca and Aquila for ‘risking their necks’ in behalf of himself and others. You can imagine what pleasure Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila must have felt over such openly expressed gratitude. But it was also good for Paul to express himself in that way. He could thus have the happiness of giving—giving recognition, honor, encouragement. We, too, can receive such happiness when we express gratitude.—Acts 20:35; 2 Tim. 1:16-18.
6, 7. How can you manifest gratitude?
6 We daily have opportunities to show that we are grateful. It could be for something as simple as a courtesy—maybe someone holds a door open for us or picks up something we dropped. Still, saying some form of “thank you” should be more than a form of ritual etiquette. If from our heart we truly feel grateful, others will detect that and be happier as a result—and so will we.
7 A fine step would be to try to broaden out in our spirit of gratitude, perhaps expressing appreciation to persons we normally take for granted. That could be someone like a store clerk, a waitress at a restaurant or the postman. Your smile and sincere “thank you” will make their job lighter, more rewarding. Yet those most deserving of our gratitude may be persons close to us whose efforts we tend to overlook. How often do you thank your wife for the good meals she prepares, for her effort to keep the home clean or for her patient care of the children? How many husbands work day in and day out without hearing a word of appreciation from their wives, much less from their children? Youths, could you reflect more often on all that your parents do for you, and then offer them some heartfelt expressions of appreciation? As you become more accustomed to expressing gratitude, your life will be richer. Others will like you more and the bonds of affection will grow. Yes, you will be happier.
GRATEFUL TO GOD
8-10. (a) According to Psalm 100, why should we be grateful to God? (b) How do most persons stand in this regard?
8 If we have reason to be grateful for what fellow humans do, we have vastly stronger reasons to be grateful to our Creator. The 100th Psalm is a melody of thanksgiving, calling attention to why it is appropriate to thank God. There we read: “It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves.” (Ps. 100:3) That is so reasonable. How could we have any possibility of finding happiness if God had not created human life and allowed us to live? (Acts 17:26-28) Yes, the very fact that we have life is a reason for gratitude.
9 Psalm 100:5 proclaims: “For Jehovah is good.” That is true in many ways. Not the least of these is that God has provided good things to keep us alive, and to enjoy at the same time. We live on God’s earth and sustain our lives from its bounties. (Isa. 45:18; Acts 14:15-17) If a friend gave you a delicious, nourishing fruit, you certainly would say, “Thank you.” Yet the ultimate source of that fruit, and of all our other natural food, is Jehovah God. (Gen. 2:9, 15, 16; Ps. 104:10-15, 24; 145:15, 16) In connection with such provisions, how do you feel toward God?—1 Tim. 4:3, 4.
10 For us to be grateful to God would mean that we are quite different from most persons today. They tend to ignore God and what he has done. Even some of those whose family custom is to offer a few words of “thanks” before eating do not manifest by their lives that they are deeply grateful to God. They seldom take God’s will into consideration in planning their lives. But are we different? We should be.
11, 12. What clue does Colossians 3:15 give us about being thankful?
11 As mentioned earlier, the apostle Paul wrote: “Let the peace of the Christ control in your hearts, for you were, in fact, called to it in one body. And show yourselves thankful.” (Col. 3:15) Thus, for us to be truly grateful to God involves more than words of thanks. We need to manifest in our lives that we are grateful to him. Major steps in doing so are the studying of his Word to find out what his will for us today is, and then doing it.—John 13:17.
12 Paul’s words in Colossians 3:15 should bring to mind also that Jehovah God has called individuals together to form a united body of Christians. These are ones who have recognized that they are sinners but who appreciate that God’s forgiveness is possible on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (Rom. 6:17, 23; 7:22-25) Think what that should mean for you. You can have a clean standing in the eyes of God. That is one more reason we have to be grateful to God.—Rev. 7:10, 14.
13. How does gratitude go beyond our present life?
13 We can well consider, though, whether our spirit of gratitude is something that relates merely to our day-to-day life now. Is it simply a matter of being more open in appreciating what others do for us, both other humans and God himself? No, for a Christian’s gratefulness involves the future, his hope. Paul wrote: “We wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus.”—Titus 2:13.
A HAPPY HOPE FOR WHICH TO BE GRATEFUL
14, 15. What was the “happy hope” that Paul mentioned in Titus 2:13?
14 What was the “happy hope” that Paul had and for which he was grateful? It was the happy prospect of being resurrected to heaven, there to be an immortal spirit creature and coruler with Jesus Christ in “his heavenly kingdom.” (2 Tim. 4:18) That was also the hope shared by Titus and the spirit-anointed Christians in Colossae and Thessalonica.
15 Paul could thus write to the Colossians: “We thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ always when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in connection with Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the holy ones because of the hope that is being reserved for you in the heavens. This hope you heard of before.” (Col. 1:3-6) With good reason, then, Paul could urge these who were called to heavenly life: “Show yourselves thankful.”—Col. 3:15.
16. When would that “hope” be realized?
16 When would that “happy hope” of resurrection to heavenly life be realized? Paul knew that it would not be until some yet future developments occurred. He wrote that “the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death.” Then “those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.” So it would not be until the presence (Greek, pa·rou·siʹa) of Christ began.—1 Thess. 4:15-17.
17, 18. Why is our time especially important as to the “happy hope”?
17 That has exciting implications for us. Jesus foretold that his presence would be marked by a composite sign involving unusual wars, earthquakes, food shortages and other things that have clearly been in evidence since the World War I year of 1914. (Matt. 24:3-14) It is also noteworthy that the resurrection of anointed Christians to heaven was foretold as occurring before the King Jesus Christ takes action in the coming “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 2:26, 27) Consequently, we live at the time during which Paul, Titus and others, who were in union with Christ but who died, receive the realization of their “happy hope.”
18 That resurrection is also part of the “glorious manifestation of the great God and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus.”* (Titus 2:13) With God’s backing, Jesus appears or comes to light in that he judges and rewards those who have died in union with Christ. In this regard the Scriptures said that he would “descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise” to join him in heaven. (1 Thess. 4:16) What of the anointed Christians who remained alive on earth? As each died he would be “changed, in a moment.” He would be given a spirit body and taken to heaven, rewarded with “the crown of life.”—1 Thess. 4:17; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; 1 Cor. 15:44, 50-57; Jas. 1:12.
19. Who else have a happy hope?
19 This accomplishment by our Savior, Christ Jesus, is also a manifestation of the glory of God. But the manifesting of God’s glory through Christ will accomplish something more, which is especially meaningful to those Christians today who know that they are not anointed with God’s spirit and selected for life in heaven. These are faithful Christians who have the happy hope of life everlasting on a restored earthly paradise. If that is your prospect, consider a special reason you now have for gratitude.
GRATEFUL FOR WHAT IS RIGHT AHEAD
20, 21. What was Jesus foretold to accomplish during his presence?
20 For centuries true worshipers of Jehovah have had to endure and contend with a prevailing wicked system of things, an integral part of which has been false religion. True Christians have been able to find much happiness in serving Jehovah, but they could never be completely happy so long as this wicked system and its false religion persist. There is, though, a particular cause for happiness and gratitude now! What is it?
21 In writing to the Thessalonians about Christ’s presence, the apostle Paul was inspired to promise that this period would bring marvelous changes. For one thing, Christ would act to bring to nothing “by the manifestation of his presence” the false religious element termed the “man of lawlessness.” That is particularly an anti-Christian apostasy sponsored by the leaders of religion, especially the clergy of Christendom.—2 Thess. 2:3-8.
22, 23. Why will the end of false religion be something for which to be grateful?
22 The end of false religion would be a cause for gratitude to God. But Christ will do more. With Jehovah God’s backing, Jesus will destroy all “those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thess. 1:6-10) We are living at the time of Christ’s presence and of the “glorious manifestation of the great God and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus.” That means that we are living when this elimination of false religion and all who will not serve the Creator in truth will occur. If Paul could write to the Thessalonians back then, “In connection with everything give thanks,” think what a special reason we now have to do that!—1 Thess. 5:18.
23 The elimination of false religion will be a blessing. Gone will be misleading teachings that have long held millions in fear—about immortal souls suffering in hell, or about the spirits of the dead. (John 8:32) All obedient mankind will “obey the good news about our Lord Jesus” and serve Jehovah. That will bring unity and peace. Is that not something for which to be grateful?
24, 25. What other blessings are right ahead for obedient mankind?
24 When those who do not obey the “good news” are no more, mankind will learn and follow the ways of righteousness. (Isa. 11:9; 26:9) You may find it satisfying even now to discuss with your family what a difference that will make. Compare it with what you now experience on your job, or in dealing with government officials, or when traveling in an unfamiliar area.
25 The new order will also be marked by physical blessings coming from God. He will eliminate sickness and death. (Rev. 21:1-4) He will bless the work of our hands so that we can enjoy an abundance of life’s necessities. (Ps. 67:6; compare Isaiah 65:21-25.) There will even be peace between mankind and God’s animal creation; Jehovah will see to that, just as in the original paradise when the animals ate vegetation and did not harm humans.
26. What reasons do you have for gratitude and happiness?
26 Those blessings are right ahead. You can live to experience them. Thus, how unique a time we are living in! Despite the ingratitude and unhappiness that mark mankind in general today, we have abundant reasons to be grateful to God, especially for the happy hope we have. Let us regularly thank him for that.
See page 31.
[Picture on page 24, 25]
Those having the “happy hope” who die in union with the Lord during his “presence” will not sleep in death. At death they will be raised, changed “in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet.”