What! How can it already be November? Can you believe that Christmas will be here in less than eight weeks? But before we celebrate Christmas, we pause to meditate on the things we are thankful for.
The Bible overflows with admonitions and encouragements for God’s people to give thanks to Him. One of the most loved of these admonitions is found in Psalm 100. In verse four, the Psalmist challenges us to come into God’s presence with thankful hearts. Notice the words he uses – thanksgiving, praise, give thanks, bless. He isn’t trying to make sharp distinctions between these words. Instead, he is describing a heart so overflowing with gratitude that it expresses itself with joyful praise and worship.
Verse 5 begins with For; that is, the Psalmist is going to explain why God’s people are to enter His presence with this kind of thanksgiving. He gives three reasons: God is good, His loving kindness endures forever, and His faithfulness endures to all generations.
Notice again that there is a great deal of overlap between these three attributes. God’s goodness cannot be separated from His loving kindness and faithfulness. You might say that His goodness is the source from which His loving kindness and faithfulness flow.
What does it mean to say that the Lord is good? Good is such a simple word but we use it in a variety of ways. We ask someone, How are you doing? And they respond, I’m good. (Although their English teacher wouldn’t be happy with their misuse of an adjective.) I’m good signifies something like I’m OK. It’s a middle-of-the-road kind of expression. Things are OK. They could be better, but I could also be much worse. A similar implication exists when we evaluate our experiences. If someone says a movie was good, the implication is again that although it wasn’t a flop, it also wasn’t spectacular.
Does the Psalmist mean something like that when he says that God is good? Of course not. The Psalmist was using the word in an absolute sense—God is the epitome of good. Jesus highlighted this distinction when a wealthy young man came to Him and called Him a good teacher(Mark 10:17-18). Jesus questioned the man, Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone (ESV). Do you see how Jesus is using the word good in a different way from what the young man is? Jesus’ use is that of absolute goodness—perfection in every sense of the word. That is the sense in which the Psalmist is using the word. We give thanks to the Lord because He is absolutely good.
Flowing from this absolute goodness are two astounding attributes: steadfast love that endures forever and faithfulness that endures forever. Because God is absolutely good, He will always display steadfast love to His people. This steadfast love may be expressed in the form of discipline when we go astray. We know, however, that even when we must endure His discipline, it is tempered by His heart of love. Additionally, because God is absolutely good, we can be assured of His continued faithfulness. When God makes a promise, He is always faithful to that promise. Unforeseen events, changes in circumstances, or inabilities never cause Him to have to break His promise. If He has promised, He will fulfill it.
The Psalmist uses these three reasons to challenge us to thanksgiving and praise. While we could name many other reasons to give thanks, these are a great starting point. We have much to be thankful for. I pray your heart (and your home) will resound with joyous praise this Thanksgiving season.
Senior Pastor, Gary O’Neal