BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9 New King James Version).
Matthew 20:1-16 records the parable of the workers in the vineyard, who were hired from the marketplace at different hours to work. The first set of workers whom the estate owner negotiated their wages with was hired early in the morning. Other workers were hired at 9 am, 12 noon, 3 pm, and 5 pm. Only those hired early in the morning had an agreement on the wages to be paid.
At the end of the day, the estate owner paid the workers who only worked one hour first, and he paid them exactly what he had agreed to pay the first set of workers – a full day’s wage. “When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat’” (Matthew 20:10-12 New Living Translation).
The estate owner was surprised at the reaction of these first set workers because he paid them what he had agreed with them; he didn’t cheat them. “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’” (Verses 13-15 New Living Translation).
The problem with this set of workers is the same reason many people find it difficult to thank God. They keep comparing themselves with others; they feel that others have more reasons to thank God than they have. These workers should not have been bothered that those who worked for only one hour were paid the same amount as those who had worked the most. They seemed to have forgotten that until the estate owner came to hire them, they were there in the marketplace hoping to get a job that day. They could have stayed in the marketplace throughout that day without being hired and thus, not earning anything. Don’t forget that some workers had not gotten anyone to hire them just one hour to the end of working hours for the day. But the first set of workers rather than appreciating that they were able to earn something that day chose to become envious of their colleagues who only worked one hour and probably envious of other workers who didn’t work as many hours as they had done. How much appreciation do you show to God for all He has done for you?
Beware of envy
Don’t take for granted whatever God has done for you. Beware of envy or jealousy which may make you commit the sin of ingratitude. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says those who compare themselves among themselves are not wise.
The disciples of Jesus were guilty of comparison and Jesus had to put them on the right track. Matthew 18:1 says, “ About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’” (New Living Translation). Did you see that? They wanted Jesus to point out who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. What did they want to achieve by that? What leader would do that? Even if anyone would do that, Jesus would never; it would have caused disaffection among them. But the greater truth is that their idea of greatness was different from God’s idea of greatness. Jesus said, “So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:4 New Living Translation).
An attitude of comparison doesn’t allow people to lift their voices of thanksgiving to God. They are busy comparing their lives to others yet, everybody is at different levels in life; we’re in different phases in life. You must learn to appreciate what God has done for you and cultivate the habit of celebrating others.
Beware of envy. Job 5:2b says jealousy slays the stupid. Envy or jealousy is desiring what another person has or what belongs to someone else. Proverbs 14:30b says envy will rot your bones.
According to James 3:16, where there are jealousy and selfishness, there will be confusion and every kind of evil. Cain killed Abel because of envy, which led to anger (Genesis 4:4-8). He didn’t know how to celebrate his brother and learn from him what he had done that made God accept him and his sacrifice. Jesus was delivered to be tried by Pilate and eventually crucified because of the envy of the religious leaders (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10). The people had abandoned them and were following Jesus. 1 Corinthians 3:3 says envy is one of the signs that someone is not spiritual but carnal.
Don’t envy or be jealous of anyone. Don’t let it silence the voice of thanksgiving in your life. Thank God for what He has done for you; don’t focus on what He is yet to do and don’t be sad because of what He has done for others. Don’t let the people’s testimony that is making them happy make you sad. Whatever God has done for anybody He can do much more for you if it is His will for your life. You don’t need to be envious. Be thankful.
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (New King James Version). Many people are good at the second part of that statement than the first part because of envy. In other words, they can weep with others when they’re weeping but they can’t rejoice with them when they’re rejoicing. They’ll come up with every excuse why they’ll not be available to celebrate with those who are rejoicing. Their problem is envy. I pray that hypocrites who’re waiting to weep with you but won’t rejoice with you will wait forever! Shouts of joy shall be continually heard in your home in Jesus’ name. Lift the voice of thanksgiving to God even if nobody joins you.
All that glitters is not gold
Don’t envy anyone, because if you have all the information about them, what they’re going through, you’ll stop envying them –you won’t want to exchange your life for theirs. Everybody knows where the shoe is pinching him. All that glitters is not gold. There’s more than what you’re seeing.
No matter how you feel and what you think, God has been good to you. Therefore, thank Him. Not thanking God for His kindnesses and mercies, good health, peace of mind, etc. that He has given you is a sin.
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (New King James Version). The Bible says in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (New King James Version). The New Century Version renders the latter verse thus, “Always be thankful.” The Scripture doesn’t say, “Always be grumbling” or “Always be envious.”
Give thanks to the Lord
Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (New King James Version). And what does Colossians 2:7 have to say about thanksgiving? It says, “Keep your roots deep in him and have your lives built on him. Be strong in the faith you were taught, and always be thankful” (New Century Version). Abound in faith with thanksgiving.
According to Psalm 147:7, you should sing to the Lord with thanksgiving. Psalm 95:2 invites you to come before God with thanksgiving and shout joyfully to Him with psalms. Are you ready to thank the Lord? Are you ready to magnify Him with thanksgiving as David promised to do in Psalm 69:30? He also talked about going about the altar of the LORD that he might proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all His wondrous works (Psalm 26:6-7). Are you prepared to proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all His wondrous works to you?
Jonah prayed, “But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9 New King James Version). You, too, should sacrifice to the Lord with the voice of thanksgiving. If you have made any vow to Him, pay it. “What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you” (Psalm 65:1-2 New Living Translation). Pay your vows. Don’t enjoy the answers and forget the vows. “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed — Better not to vow than to vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 New King James Version).
Conclusion: Lift the voice of thanksgiving to God. Jeremiah 30:19 says, “Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small” (New King James Version). As you continue to lift the voice of thanksgiving to God, “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a mighty nation” (Isaiah 60:22a). The Lord says when it is time He’ll make these things happen quickly. Don’t be ungrateful to God for what He has done for you, your family, and your loved ones. Lift the voice of thanksgiving to God.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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