The importance of carefully choosing one's words cannot be overemphasized. Our words can literally make or break us. As the wise man Solomon once wrote: "There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Eccl. 3:7). The difficulty is in knowing when to do which. The New Testament teaches that one of the factors upon which God will ultimately judge us is our speech. Jesus once declared - "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt. 12:36,37).
Yes, one day we will be judged by our words. Certainly that is a reminder to us all to guard our speech carefully at all times. Everyday we speak thousands of words, many of them we don't remember--but God does. Imagine with me, if you will, what would it be like if we were limited to only speak a few sentences per day? I think we'd come to appreciate and really cherish the important words and phrases, like "I love you," for example. I believe that if you only had three words to speak, those would be among the most important.
But what if you only had two words to speak? What would they be? I think the sweetest two-word phrase we can speak is: "Thank you." Sadly, that's a phrase that has become a lost expression in recent years to many. We can easily get so caught up in ourselves--our wants and needs--that we fail to genuinely express appreciation & gratitude when we should both to God & to our fellow man.
I remember reading about a farmer recently who wasn't afraid to say "Thank You" to God. He was far away from home and he stopped at a city restaurant to eat lunch. When he was served his food he bowed his head and gave thanks to the Lord. Some rather rude young men sitting at a nearby table noticed the farmer's prayer and shouted: "Hey pops, back from where you come does everybody pray before they eat?" Their laughter was silenced when the farmer replied: "Everybody but the pigs."
What about you, friend? Do you regularly say "Thank you"? And I don't just mean before meals. When you do say "Thank you," do you really mean it or is it just something you say because you know you should? The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:20 that we should give "thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This series is intended to be encouraging for Christians. We all need to be reminded from time to time of the importance of being thankful. Particularly, I want to encourage everyone to strive to better develop and maintain a perpetual attitude of gratitude. We need to learn how to "do all things without complaining" (Phil. 2:14). I am hopeful a study of Psalm 103 will be productive in this way.
1. GRATITUDE INVOLVES PERSONAL EXAMINATION.
Psalm 103:1,2 reads - "Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits."
It almost seems as if David is having a conversation with himself here - "Bless the LORD, O my soul." Certainly he is examining himself in this psalm; to do such takes honesty & dedication. Paul commands us to examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith (cf. II Cor. 13:5). When we do examine ourselves we ought to see our own failures & shortcomings. This ought to be a motivating factor for us to bless the LORD for His grace & mercy! Friends, it is wrong to forget God's blessings. David pleads with himself to not forget all of God's wonderful benefits (benefits that are so much greater than any employee benefits package!). David will describe these benefits throughout this psalm. Truly, he is counting his blessings one-by-one in the following verses.
We will continue this study in our next lesson.