On Gratitude Towards Our Lord and Creator

Holy, Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver

Holy, Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

By Saint Nikolai Velimirovic, Bishop of Ochrid

"And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks..." [see Luke 17:12-19].

We are taught through small things, not always being able to grasp big ones. If we are unable to grasp how God sees all men, let us see how the sun shines and sheds its light on all things on earth. If we are unable to grasp how a man's soul cannot live for an instant without God, let us see how a man's body cannot live for a moment without air.

If we do not know why God seeks obedience from men, let us understand why the head of a family seeks obedience from its members, a king from his subjects, a commander from his soldiers and an architect from his builders. If we do not know why God seeks gratitude from men, let us reflect and understand why a father seeks gratitude from his children. Let us pause for a moment on this subject: why does a father seek obedience from his children? Why does a father insist that his son take off his cap and make a reverence to him, and say "thank you" for everything, large and small, that he receives from his parents? Why do parents have to do this? Are they enriched by their children's thanks, or made more powerful or more eminent, or do they have more influence in society? No; nothing of all this. So, when parents gain nothing personally from their children's gratitude, is it not strange that they constantly teach their children to be grateful, and make them practice gratitude--and this not just on the part of devout parents, but also that of unbelievers?

This is not in the least strange, but is, rather, sublime. It is the parents' selfless love that drives them to teach their children gratitude. Why? That it should drives them to teach their children gratitude. Why? That it should be for the child's good. That the child should grow up as a cultivated fruit tree and not as a wild thistle; so that it should go well with the child in this transitory life among men, among friends and enemies, in villages and towns, in authority and in commerce. A grateful man is everywhere valued, liked, invited and assisted. He who learns gratitude learns mercy, and a merciful man walks more freely in this world.

Let us now ask ourselves why God seeks men's thanks. Why did He seek of Noah, Moses, Abraham and other of our forefathers that they offer Him sacrifices of thanksgiving (Genesis 8:20-21; 12:7-8; 35:1; Lev. Ch. 3)? Why did the Lord Jesus every day give an example to the world of how we must give thanks to God (Saint Matthew 11:25; 14:19; 26:26-7)? Why did the Apostles do the same (Acts 2:47; 27:35), commanding all the faithful to give thanks to God in and for all things (Ephesians 5:20; Col 3:17)? Do we find great Isaiah's words incomprehensible: "I will mention the loving kindness of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness!" (Isaiah 63:7)? "Or what the gentle Psalmist advises his own soul: "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm102/103:2)? Why, then, does God seek men's thanks, and why do men give Him thanks?

It is out of His endless love for mankind that God seeks that men give Him thanks. The thanks of men will not make God greater, more powerful, more glorious, richer or more alive, but they will make men all of these things. Man's gratitude will not add anything to God's peace and contentment, but it will add greatly to man's. Thanksgiving to God will in no way change God's state and being, but it will change these in a grateful man. God has no need of gratitude, nor are our prayers necessary to Him. But it is this same Lord Who said: "Your Father knoweth what things you have need of; before you ask him" (Saint Matthew 6:8) Who at the same time recommended "that men ought always to pray and not faint" (St. Luke 18:1). God may not feel the need of our prayers, but He nevertheless tells us to pray. He may not feel the need of our gratitude, but nevertheless demands it of us--thanksgiving that is nothing other than a form of prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving to God raises us mortals out of the corruption of mortality, releases us from that from which we must all at some time be released, whether we will or not, and binds us to God the Living and Immortal: if we are not bound to Him in this life, then we shall never be in His presence in eternity. Thanksgiving ennobles the thankful and nourishes good works. Thanksgiving inspires benevolence in the world and gives freshness of every virtue. The mortal tongue of man is far from being able to represent either the beauty of gratitude or the ugliness of ingratitude. (Source: Orthodox Heritage)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George