2 Corinthians 4:15
“For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” Here Paul wrote that in our service to God, even a converted thankful man cannot be the end of our ministry. Our ministry reaches its goal only when God’s glory is exalted. And thanksgiving plays an important part in all our ministry.
In the Greek language there is a connection between grace and gratitude (thanksgiving) because it comes from the same original root word. And we need to see this relationship so we might understand what real gratitude is. Gratitude is more than saying “thank you.” We have to have a real feeling of thanksgiving in our heart before it becomes really gratitude.
But gratitude is more than being delighted in a gift. If you give a ten year old a new electronic game, he might just brag that his game is better than his neighbor’s. He is still ungrateful because his delight is not directed at the giver of gifts. Gratitude is the feeling you have about the giver because he has given you something good or he has done something good for you.
But here is also something else. The feeling of gratitude also rises in direct proportion to how undeserved the gift is that we receive. In other words, gratitude flourished in the sphere of grace. Gratitude is the feeling of happiness that you feel toward somebody who has shown you some undeserved kindness, which is a person who has been gracious to you. But there is something else that happens.
Expressions of gratitude also shows us a person who has humility and wants to encourage us. Being thankful conveys humility because it is saying, you do not owe me your service, I’m happy to receive your grace, I’m honored that you are willing to meet my need. I am a mere beneficiary of your grace and encouragement, because you are my needed and helpful benefactor.
We all have to be most grateful toward Jesus Christ and God, the Father in verse 15 above. Why? 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Grace happens when the emptiness of one is filled up by the fullness on another.
Our poverty is replaced by His wealth. And all that happens not because we deserve it, but because Jesus is gracious. His riches are free. Therefor gratitude is felt in our hearts because we have received in Romans 5:17, “abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness.” This gratitude is more than being freed from condemnation, it is being thankful to Jesus for the riches of salvation that He has given us.
There are two other observations from that one verse. First Paul says that ‘his ministry is for your sake.’ Secondly Paul says that the purpose of his ministry is for God’s glory. So Paul starts by saying that everything he endures in the ministry is for the sake of us in the church. 2 Timothy 2:10 says, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
Paul lived for the sake of others, he lived to do good and his aim was to make them thankful in their hearts to Jesus. And since gratitude is caused by grace, his ministry was the gospel of grace. But the point of ministry should never stop with mankind, for Paul and for all of us it should ultimately always be for God’s glory. We learned from Colossians 1:16 that “All things were created through Him and for Him.”
Paul says that also in Romans 11:36, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” Gratitude glorifies the giver, it acknowledges that we are infinitely in debt to God. Psalm 50:23 says, “Whoever offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors God.” And when you endure hardship for ministry and you are so thankful for God’s sustaining grace at the same time, it will seem that it all was no sacrifice at all, Amen? Let us pray.