Why is giving thanks to God with a joyful heart so important? To start, we need to look more closely at God’s heart and what makes Him joyful. We may think of God as powerful, or merciful or loving, but have you considered that God, in His nature, is happy? In Luke 12, Jesus offers us a glimpse into the joyful heart of our heavenly Father.
After listing common fears we all experience, Jesus tells His followers to abandon their worry. Your Father knows what you need, Jesus assures His followers, and He’ll provide it. What Jesus says next was life-changing for me: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”
There is such tenderness in these words. Jesus calls us His little flock. He is our Good Shepherd who cares for us, knows our name, and guides us through the dark and dangerous places to safe pastures where all of our needs will be met.
Because He is our Shepherd, we do not have to live in fear.
It gets even better. He says it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. Another translation says the Father “chooses gladly” to give it. Some mistakenly think “the Kingdom” refers to heaven or some celestial afterlife, but Jesus uses “the Kingdom” to speak of God’s own presence. It is the domain where He reigns and where His will is always done. To be in God’s Kingdom is to be united with God Himself.
Jesus says that God doesn’t give to us His presence and all of its accompanying blessings begrudgingly. We don’t have to pry good things from His hands or cajole Him into being kind to us. Our heavenly Father delights over us, and it actually brings Him pleasure to give us the Kingdom along with everything else that we need. Our heavenly Father wants us to know life with Him, and He welcomes us with a smile.
Is it possible that God receives more joy from us than we are capable of receiving from Him? And if providing for our needs brings the Creator of the universe pleasure, if it makes Him smile, what can possibly make us afraid?
Joy is infectious. Its energy is uncontainable; it overflows from one person to another. There is no one more joyful than our heavenly Father, and as we live in communion with Him, we will find ourselves carried along in the current of His pleasure. If you desire to live a life of joyful gratitude, it begins by recognizing God’s joy over you.
This week, take time to consider what brings you great joy. Can you imagine God feeling that way about caring for you? What false ideas about God’s character keep you from expressing thanks to Him?
(Excerpt from Whole-Life Generosity Devotional, used with permission from GenerousChurch).