Should we say thank you to people? Some people don’t want to be thanked for their acts of kindness because they say they are only sharing what God has given to them. If you try to thank them, they get offended. On the other hand, there are others who become insulted if they don’t receive a great show of gratitude for any kindness they do. Jesus spoke about this and, like many Scriptures, people take it out of context.
“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:” (Matthew 6:3).
That seems to make it clear that when you give a gift or do a service, it shouldn’t be done with a big show for all to see. This has nothing to do with the recipient of the kindness being grateful or saying thank you. When we look at the rest of this passage, we can get a clearer understanding of the issue which Jesus was addressing.
First, let’s take a look at alms. What are they?
Alms are gifts of kindness given in order to help another person who has a need. These kind acts are supposed to be done quietly without drawing attention to the giver. They are never supposed to be given to puff up the one giving the alms nor humiliate the person with the need. I saw this quality in my husband many times. One time he saw that my cousin was in desperate need of a washing machine. With a severely handicapped son and a toddler, her life was difficult and laundry day was a real problem. So, Ron went to our local appliance dealer and bought a washing machine for her. He gave strict instructions that they should just deliver it and not make mention of who had purchased it for her. My cousin was so surprised when the washer was delivered, and the feeling of having done a kindness was enough for Ron. That’s what alms are and they should bring gratitude to God, not to the giver.
When Jesus talked about quietly doing alms, He was speaking against hypocrites. The Pharisees liked to give alms, but they made quite a show of it so everybody could see just how generous they were.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matthew 6:1-2).
When doing a kind deed for another person, check your motives. If you’re doing it so you’ll receive a big thank you and so everyone around you will know just how giving you are, then your motives are wrong. Don’t have false humility, though, and reject the recipient’s gratitude. That person needs to say thank you. When the washing machine was delivered to my cousin, the company made a mistake and put our telephone number on the paperwork. She said thank you, and Ron was gracious and humble in accepting her thanks. A Christian’s goal is to please God, and blessing others pleases Him.
Christians know that we need to thank God for everything, but do we do that? He gives us everything, and we need to let Him know that we’re thankful.
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
Birds stay very busy gathering seeds and worms to eat. God provides for them generously. People also are provided for by God. We don’t need to gather birdseed, but God provides the means for us to earn our food, shelter, and clothing. We need to sincerely thank Him for all He provides. When we stop being grateful, that’s when we begin to think we deserve all we are given. Saying thank you to God or to a fellow human being is a way to stay humble. We acknowledge that we have received something we didn’t deserve, but are grateful to have received it. If you’ve received help, then give thanks. If you’ve given help, then accept the gratitude.
Some people say that we should never thank people. The say that the gifts are from God, so only He deserves our thanks. It’s true that all blessings come from God, but it’s also true that He works through people. The Apostle Paul worked tirelessly in service for the Lord, but he needed help from fellow Christians. He didn’t beg for money and he did without some basic comforts on many occasions. He established many congregations during his missionary travels, and some of those congregations supported his ministry. Paul was thankful to them. The congregation in Philippi was one that supported him, but their gifts didn’t always reach Paul in a timely manner. Paul knew how to live on very little and he never complained in times of want, and he was sure to show gratitude when help came his way.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity” (Philippians 4:11).
Paul wasn’t easy to send gifts to. Just when they thought they knew where to send their gifts, he may have traveled on, or he might even have been put in prison. The Christians in Philippi were faithful to send help, and Paul was not too proud to say thank you.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction” (Philippians 4:13-14).
God uses people in many ways. Some are spreading His message and some are supporting their efforts. If someone fills a need in your life, thank God, but also thank the person. Paul was humble enough to say thank you, and hopefully the Philippians were gracious enough to accept his thanks.
Today there are many people with great need, and Christians need to look to the needs of fellow Christians and help. That help isn’t always in the form of money. A gift of time is always welcome. A person in a rest home or hospital can get very lonely. Let them thank you when you spend some time there. If you see a brother or sister struggling with a crisis, stop and pray with them, then let them thank you for your prayers or other help. It’s very humbling when a brother or sister helps to fill a need; and if you reject the simple words, “Thank you,” then you have rejected the humble gratitude of a fellow believer.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Be sure that God is glorified in all that you do. Don’t do kind acts to get the gratitude of people; but when you receive a thank you, be sure that the glory goes to God.
Saying “Thank you” is important for our humbleness, but we must never forget to thank Jesus for all He does. Remember the ten lepers who were healed? They were all very happy about the healing and scurried off to the priest to be declared clean. Only one thanked Jesus.
“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:15-16).
Only one of the ten said thank you and glorified God. It’s from Him that all blessings come. Jesus didn’t take the gift of healing back from the ones who didn’t say thank you, but He did notice that only one turned back to thank Him. If we claim to be a Christian, then we need to show our gratitude to Him. God gave us the ultimate gift…the gift of salvation.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
No mere mortal could accomplish that, and He deserves our gratitude. Jesus chose to enter His creation, walk among men, then go through the agony of crucifixion in order to offer us the free gift of salvation through Him. That gift must be accepted; and if you’ve accepted it, don’t take it for granted. Thank Him for loving you and taking your sin away.
If you’ve been given a gift, thank the person who gave it. If you’ve given a gift, accept the thanks. In all cases, give thanks to God.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.
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