Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
-- 1 Chronicles 19:13
Did you watch the Emmy Awards on TV last Sunday night...or any of the other self-promoting awards shows that Hollywood presents throughout the year? The entertainment industry is one of the last places where anyone--especially Christ-followers--should seek guidance about godly behavior. After all, Hollywood is infamous for its moral relativism and feels-good-do-it lifestyle. Celebrity relationships are often shallow and short-lived, and they've long embraced political correctness to redefine marriage and the family. What's more, many in Hollywood mock Christ-followers and the Bible as being intellectually inferior, bigoted and behind the times. In Tinseltown, there's not much room at the inn for God and his people.
But maybe Hollywood can teach us something after all. If you've ever watched the Academy Awards or the Grammys, the winning actors and musicians often go to great lengths in their acceptance speeches to thank others for their success. They'll cite their producers, agents and writers--even their family members--for helping to make it all possible. Rarely if ever does an entertainer take all the credit.
This is not to suggest that most Christ-followers hog the acclaim for their own blessings and achievements. But what's true is that even faithful, long-time Christians can fall into the trap of selfishness. For example, prayer--what should be an intimate conversation with God--can become a laundry list of personal wants and must-haves. The Father becomes little more than a cosmic genie. And we think our wishes should be his command. It's all about I, me and mine without giving thanks to the One who deserves all of our praise.
Make no mistake: God does indeed want us to tell Him about our legitimate needs and desires. We read in Luke's Gospel that the disciples once asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, just as John the Baptist had taught his disciples. Christ responded through what we call the Lord's Prayer that we should always ask God to provide us with our daily sustenance and protect us from temptation and the Evil One (the devil).
Elsewhere the Bible teaches us to blend our prayers with thanksgiving, regardless of our circumstances. The Apostle Paul lived out this principle throughout his ministry. In fact, he spent time in prison chained to his guards while under the constant threat of death. But he always prayed thankfully. And instead of feeling sorry for himself, he used his circumstances to change the lives of fellow prisoners and jailers alike--and all while writing much of what we today know as the New Testament.
So let's be fair and give credit where credit is due. The Hollywood elite are quick to share the credit with those who deserve it. But rather than thanking the producers, writers and agents during our next acceptance speech, let's instead remember the simple admonition found in Psalm 106:
Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.