“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (v. 9).
Napolean Bonaparte is hardly a model worth imitating, but he did stumble upon an important truth in this statement: “Do you know what is more hard to bear than the reverses of fortune? . . . It is the baseness, the hideous ingratitude of man” (Napolean and His Times, vol. 2, p. 84). Truly, we all sense that something is fundamentally wrong when we see men and women who are not grateful for their blessings and not thankful for what others have done in their behalf.
The reason we feel this way about ingratitude is due to our being made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26–27). Paul’s analysis of the human condition in Romans 1:18–32 gives the two chief reasons why the wrath of God is revealed from heaven — the sins of idolatry and ingratitude (vv. 18–23). If our Creator is deeply offended by our unwillingness to thank Him for our every breath, then we who image Him cannot help but be thunderstruck when we see other image-bearers fail to be thankful for what they have.
Since ingratitude is one of the main ways we deny God the glory due Him, it follows that thanking Him properly is among the best avenues for glorifying our Lord. Thus, in order “to live and die in the joy” of the comfort that comes with belonging to Christ, we must also know how we are “to thank God for [our] deliverance” from our sin and misery (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 2). Those who realize what Jesus has done for them cannot help but be thankful (Rom. 7:24–25a). Gratitude will naturally flow from every pore when we recognize how undeserving we are in God’s sight and yet how gracious He has been in sending His Son to atone for the sin of His people.
What is the proper way to express this gratitude? There are many ways to answer this question, but the Apostle Peter, in today’s passage, explains that we thank the Lord through personal holiness and grateful proclamation (1 Peter 2:9–10). Having been set apart in Christ Jesus and declared holy in Him, we who are grateful for our salvation eagerly mortify the flesh and seek to put holiness into practice. We strive for “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). In pursuing holiness, we also proclaim what Peter calls the “excellencies” of the Lord (1 Peter 2:9). Thankful people express their gratitude by spreading the news of what God has done in Christ, proclaiming the glories of His holiness and mercy.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
As Christians, we should be the most grateful of all people. However, the remaining presence of sin means that we often fail to thank the Lord for all His blessings, let alone the blessing of salvation. This day, let us take the time to offer our gratitude to God for what He has done for His people in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us also thank Him for the extra graces and blessings He gives to us each and every day.