Opening Prayer: Almighty and Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We glory in your Trinity, in the exceeding wisdom and glory that fills your eternal dance. We come before you now as your people, your sons and daughters, and we ask that you would pour out your wisdom and understanding upon us. We ask that you might teach us in order that we might worship you more faithfully, praise you more fully, and glorify you more thoroughly. Even though we know we can never plumb the depths of your glory and wisdom, and that we can never adequately give you thanks, we know that you are pleased with our feeble attempts and therefore we are bold to ask you for more. Amen!
This is Trinity Sunday the beginning of the second half of the Christian Calendar. This is important for us to emphasize because knowing who God is enables us to know who we are. The Triune God is brilliant in wisdom and understanding; Paul says he can’t get enough (Eph. 1:8-9, 17-19). We know that the wisdom of God is preeminently displayed in the persons and work of Jesus. John calls Jesus “the Word” –that is the wisdom of God. In Proverbs 8, God’s brilliance is displayed in creation. We also see this in Job (38-41). God’s wisdom is creative, skillful, and understanding.
Fear and Thankfulness
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom (Prov. 1:7). Paul associates fearing and honoring God with being thankful (Rom. 1:18-23). Knowing God and not suppressing the truth results in wisdom and thankfulness. The psalmist associates these as well: serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling (Ps. 2:11). Godly fear recognizes that one is surrounded by mercies and therefore worships (Ps. 5:7). Fearing God means glorifying God and praising him (Ps. 22:23). Godly fear recognizes that God is piling up good things for his people (Ps. 31:19). Those who fear God see his salvation near to them for the glory of their land (Ps. 85:9). The fear of God gives thanks for forgiveness of sins (Ps. 103:11-12). The fear of God sees God’s covenant faithfulness even in the food they eat (Ps. 111:5). The psalmist even comes out and says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and therefore God’s praise is forever (Ps. 111:10). The fear of the Lord is the kind of worship and praise that cannot end. Again the psalmist says, “Let all those who fear the Lord now say ‘His mercy endures forever!’” (Ps. 118:4). Godly fear gives thanks for other people who obey the word of God (Ps. 119:74). Again, those who fear the Lord, bless the Lord (Ps. 135:20). Those who fear the Lord are those who hope in his mercy (Ps. 147:11). The fear of the Lord is a deep kind of thankfulness to God. It recognizes everything as mercy, everything as an altar for praise, everything as an excuse to worship.
Applications: The Wisdom of Gratitude
The Trinitarian life is a life full of thankfulness. The reason that God is all wise and full of the depths of understanding is because the Trinity is all-thankful. The Father gives glory to the Son and the Spirit and Son gives glory to the Spirit and the Father and the Spirit gives glory back to the Father and the Son. The wisdom of God is the fundamental thankfulness of God, the persons of the Trinity rejoicing in the others. God can’t stop being thankful. The Trinity delights eternally in itself, and this delight overflows in creation. And the Trinity continues to delight even in the midst of sin and wickedness.
Gratitude teaches us loyalty. When we are grateful for what God has given we receive these gifts and seek to use them carefully and protect them. If creation is true then everything is a gift. Therefore receive it as such, treat it like a gift. What if the most wise person in the whole world said that they knew exactly what you need and would give it to you? Even if it was a rock, if you truly believed that this person was the wisest person in the world, you would guard that rock with your very life. As it turns out, the wisest person ever does know exactly what you need and he gives it to you every day. Be loyal to your life, to your faith, to your family, to your house, to your car, to the food on your plate, not with a pagan kind of grasping and clinging but with the kind of exuberant joy that sees it all as a gift from your faithful heavenly Father. Then remember that thankfulness uses the gifts as they were meant to be used and cares for them. Thankfulness pulls weeds, confesses sin, and disciplines her children.
Secondly, gratitude protects the ability to be grateful. Gratitude makes decisions that will provide for future opportunities for thankfulness and praise. The thankful heart takes steps to prevent occasions of ingratitude. If you are prone to pettiness when you are hungry, sleepy, or in certain weather, take steps to stop it. Why, because thankfulness wants to be thankful. Related to this is the fact that thankfulness is hungry to understand more in order to be more thankful. When we see trees, their leaves and the way they stretch up into the sky we are thankful, but when we learn that the cells in those leaves are doing a phenomenal dance that turns sunlight into sugar, we should be all the more amazed, all the more thankful. Thankfulness seeks to know more and understand more in order to be more thankful. Your personal prayers should be getting longer if only for the growing list of things you are grateful for.
Thankfulness is not bitter, does not complain, and it is not petty. In fact the best defense is always a good offense. If you would do battle with bitterness and complaining, you must begin by being thankful. This is why worship is warfare. We are not a polite social club meeting here on Sunday mornings hoping to help each other be decent people. We worship here, offering up our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving because the Bible teaches that this is how God will conquer this world. Witness Jericho, Jehoshaphat’s armies, and the book of Revelation. Therefore worship here, believing that God is using your prayers, songs, and joyful celebration of his meal as the battering ram to bring down the principalities and powers, every haughty thing that exalts itself against our Lord Jesus. This is Trinitarian wisdom; fear God and give him thanks. And this is central to what we are called to take to the nations, trying to figure out ways to make more people thankful to God.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Concluding Prayer: All majesty, glory, praise, and adoration be to you O Triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit. We bow before you and we worship you. You are God and there is no other. You are wisdom and there is no other, and therefore we rejoice in you and in your goodness. Blessed be the Father. Blessed be the Son. Blessed be the Holy Spirit.