All that we are and have is God's gift to us. But there is one thing we can and must give to Him. What we can give Him, however, is what He has given us, namely the life that will give thanks to Him.
Paul expressed this when in II Thessalonians 2:13 he writes, "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
We owe God thanks for having chosen us in Christ to be sanctified, that is, to be made holy by making us believe that He chose us in Christ. Our faith reveals the fact that we received that blessedness of holiness.
Now the word "bound" here means that we owe God thanks for our election unto salvation. Yes, we owe Him thanks for material things and physical life. But unless He gives us the right to salvation through the cross of His Son, these earthly possessions are not gifts of His grace but of His providence. In fact, the briefer a man's life is, and the smaller the amount of his earthly possessions are as an unbeliever, the smaller the degree of his punishment in hell will be.
Salvation is a gift that calls for thanks. For then all things work together for our good, as Paul taught us in Romans 8:28 . This is true only for those chosen to be saved. All the things which those who are not saved receive simply enable them to sin, and bring deeper punishment.
Thank God then for having chosen you before you could even want it and know about it. For He chose His people before the foundation of the world ( Eph. 1:4 ). Thank Him also for that ability to thank Him. That ability also is His gift to you. It is your duty. Is it also your joy to do so?
Take hold of the world of Paul, namely, "always." Our calling is "always" to thank God for having chosen us unto salvation in Christ.
Read: II Thessalonians 2 .
Quote for Reflection:
"As long as we consider the things of this present life, the success and progress, the advancement and the prosperity of the wicked well-doer, as blessings of God upon him, gifts of His grace which the Most High bestows upon him in order that he should enjoy them for a time; as long as we separate the things of this present time from their eternal purpose and end, we shall never understand that even the reward of the wicked well-doer is a curse. But as soon as we see all things in their true light and relation, this becomes very clear. For, when the wicked well-doer is successful, increases his wealth, enlarges his place, gains in power and influence, he merely enhances his obligation to serve God. For the things of this present time are God’s capital, entrusted to us, placing us under the obligation to serve and glorify the Most High with it all. But the wicked cannot and will not employ all things in His service. To him the things of this present time are means to satisfy the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. And, therefore, the more he increases his substance and position, the greater sinner he becomes, the more he aggravates his judgment, the severer will be his eternal punishment" (The Curse-Reward of the Wicked Well-Doer, p. 19). -- Herman Hoeksema