Some have noticed the phonetic similarity between “think” and “thank” and suggested the origin of telling someone, “Thank you,” entailed alerting that someone of your good thoughts of them.
This fits with the meaning of the word, gratitude, which originally meant “good will” and is now used to indicate “thankfulness.”
Until after the birth of my first child, I did not have a full appreciation for everything my parents gave up for me or how deeply they loved me. Holding my child, my good thoughts of my mother and father increased manifold, and still do, years later.
Our good thoughts and thankfulness are a gift in response to the original gift conveyed to us.
And when we thank someone for their gift, we expand the effect of their original gift. Gifts beget gifts beget gifts and so on.
This is why God wants us to praise Him.
By praising Him for His gifts to us, we are giving a gift that will beget more gifts. By praising God, we enter into His pattern of giving. When we praise Him, we become more like Him.
“Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall go into them, I shall praise Yah. This is the gate to Yahweh; the righteous ones shall go into them” (Psalm 118:19-20).
What the famous 19th century British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, taught his congregation:
We will not touch you upon the point of what you have done for man, but let me remind you, that man did not make you, that it is not your deeds for others that can save you, it is not your nation that can save your soul; it is God. It is God, and yet, you have forgotten Him, and He is not in all your thoughts.
You can go to bed without a prayer to Him; you can rise in the morning without a hymn of thankfulness.
A God forgotten in His own world; a God unknown by His own creatures; a God—and such a God.
So good, so gracious, so tender, so loving—a God who has given His own Son to die, and yet, by His own creature so lightly deemed, that he gives Him not a word or thought. Well, soul; well, sinner, what a mercy it is that God has not forgotten you.
If He had forgotten to give you your bread, where had you been?
If He had forgotten to let the sun shine on you—if He had forgotten to let the fields yield their harvests—if He had forgotten to keep back the fever—if He had forgotten you when you were lying last year upon a sick bed—or when you were out in that storm at sea, and the wind had torn away the mast— or when your gun exploded in your hand—you had been howling in hell now, but He has not forgotten you and you are yet alive.
Oh, may His long-suffering lead you to repentance for having lived as if there were no God to love, and yourself the only thing worth caring for.
But, soul, let me remind you, that long-suffering does not last forever.
The Roman judges were attended by lictors, as you know; these lictors carried on their shoulders a bundle of rods, and in the center an axe.
Now, when the judge condemned any man to be beaten by the rods, the following scene always took place.
The rods were tied about with leather thongs, which were knotted a great many times.
When the judge condemned the man to be beaten, his back was stripped, the lictor then untied one knot, and then another, and another, which took some little time, and during all this time the judge was looking in the face of the person to be scourged, watching him to see if he saw hardness of heart and rebellion there. If he did, then the blows came heavy, and perhaps the axe followed.
But, if he looked in the criminal’s face and saw repentance expressed there, it often happened that before the last knot was untied, the judge would say, “The punishment is remitted, tie up the rods again.”
Now, you who have forgotten God, remember His rods, too, are bound up with many knots. Many of those knots have been untied for some of you.
Six years ago you laid ill with the cholera; there was a knot untied then. Before that you had had many warnings that were like loosening of the knots.
And now, this morning, the fingers of Eternal Justice are loosening another of the knots.
Sinner, it may be it is the last, and God is looking in your face, and what does He see there? Does He see a brow of brass?
Is your heart saying, “I have loved pleasure and after it I will go”? Then it is possible that justice will untie the last knot, and then comes the axe.
Take heed, sinner, when once God’s axe is taken, you cannot escape it. He shall dash you in pieces, and there is none to deliver.
O, God of mercy, touch the sinner’s heart, and make him repent. Compel him to feel his need of Christ.
Lord, lead him to Jesus, and then, by Your grace, the rods shall never be untied, and he shall never be beaten.
Sermon edited with preface by Zach Parker, news editor at The Ouachita Citizen. The excerpt is from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, “God or self—which?” delivered on March 9, 1862 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.