“When we are surrounded by troubles, and we do not understand what is going on in our lives, glorifying God and giving thanks will reorient us to that beacon of light so that we can see the way out.”

As I was growing up as a believer, I remember asking myself, “What is the big deal about glorifying God or giving thanks to Him in all circumstances?” Actually, I used to think that God needed me to worship Him because it caused Him to be bigger and better. But God does not need my worship or my thankfulness.

So then, what is the purpose of worship and giving thanks? 

In Romans 1:21-23, God gives us a glimpse of the fundamental need that humans have to glorify and to thank Him. We humans are actually the ones who are benefited by practicing these two disciplines.

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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

The context of these verses reveals that God has shown Himself as the author of creation. Paul says that His invisible attributes have been displayed for all to see. The intricacies, the enormity, the self-sustainability and the beauty of creation are there to absolutely convince us that there is someone who is infinitely greater than us. 

Creation points to a great God. Glorifying God and being thankful to Him become a beacon of light that keeps us focused from losing our way in a dark world. These two acts keep us concentrated on the only One who is powerful enough to lift our eyes from ourselves. 

Not acknowledging God in this way hurts us. Again, Romans 1 says that, “they became futile in their thinking…” - they became aimless, without a purpose in their thinking. A mind that does not acknowledge God in this way will lose its way and spiral into confusion. 

This is why it is so important to cultivate our glorifying of God and thankfulness. However, the greatest temptations to not glorify Him or show Him gratitude come at points in our lives when either all is going really well or when all is going really poorly.

It is at these two extremes that we are at our greatest risk of placing our gaze on our feeble selves. On the one hand, when things are going poorly our tendency is to become lost in self-pity. Self-pity subtly causes us to remove our eyes from God - we find ourselves overwhelmed and alone. Our ability to think carefully is lost as we become preoccupied with ourselves.

Romans 1 also says that, “their foolish hearts were darkened.” Failing to recognize God in this way made them unwilling to understand and perceive the guidance of God in their life. They even claimed to be wise, but became fools. When we are surrounded by troubles, and we do not understand what is going on in our lives, glorifying God and giving thanks reorients us to that beacon of light so that we can see the way out.

We should not give thanks to God simply because it is a polite thing to do; thankfulness is a rescue line to the most powerful being in the universe. Glorifying God is not just an act of worship, but also where God comes and lifts our chin up and tells us, “I am here and you need me; I am bigger than your problems.” 

On the other hand, when all is going well, we can easily be deceived into believing that the good that has happened is because of us. We treat our success as something that we have earned, rooted in ourselves. This self-worship causes us to lose sight of Him. At this other extreme, we can also think that our wisdom has brought us success.  We can easily conclude that if we guide ourselves, we will not need our path to be made straight by God. The temptation is to become our own god.

At the end of the day, one of the goals of worshipping God and thanking Him is to keep us away from self-idolatry. Pride is at the root of the thankless heart that only seeks to worship itself. Our hearts are always bent to worship themselves, whether in the form of self-sufficiency or self-pity. Those immersed in self-pity do not have the ability to see God’s grace at work around them. Objectivity is gone and we are tossed on the seas of our subjective foolishness. We feel that we have been victimized and no one cares, not even God. The only person left to pity us is ourselves. We begin to exchange His glory and worship anything that is not God. We begin to worship especially ourselves. 

We must glorify God, not because He needs our praise (he does not), but because our hearts need it. We were designed to worship the one true, holy, righteous God of the universe, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. Honor Him, and be thankful to Him for all the grace and love that He has given you.

José González

José serves Cornerstone by overseeing the Spanish language ministry “Nueva Vida Ministerios”.

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