by Mike Benson
Paul spoke of the Gentiles in this fashion…
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21 ESV).
Did you catch the “progression” in that verse?
* The Gentiles knew God.
* The Gentiles did not honor God.
* The Gentiles did not give thanks to God.
* The Gentiles became futile in their thinking and their hearts were darkened.
Watch it. Even though the Gentiles KNEW God existed (because a creation implied a Creator, vv. 19-20), they did not respond to their knowledge of him. They refused to recognize, acknowledge, or bow down to him in worship.
They did not accept the fact that he was the singular source of all their blessings. They decided that blind fortune or human merit afforded the totality of life’s rewards.
And what was the inevitable result of this failure to express honor and gratitude to God?
Paul said their thinking became futile. The word means “empty.” I find it interesting that the same Greek word translated “futile” is the same word in the Septuagint/1 used for idols (e.g., Leviticus 17:7; 2 Chronicles 11:15). You see, idols are empty; they are nothing.
So instead of building their minds on the reality of God, the Gentiles built them on their own senseless speculation and therefore became futile or empty in their thinking.
I don’t know about you, but I hear a strong warning in Romans 1:21. It is possible for me to know (and even admit) that God exists, but then fail to show my love and gratitude towards him.
The consequences of perennial ingratitude mean that my thinking becomes empty and I lose the ability to make any moral distinctions.
We sometimes wonder how politicians can reference deity but then enact laws that are in direction contradiction to divine revelation. I understand now how that happens. It’s about ingratitude. Thanklessness. Folks who chose not to thank God will inevitably pursue legislation that is empty and void of God’s will.
I need to be more grateful. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be confined to a day, it should be a lifestyle.
1/ The Greek translation of the Old Testament.
by Mike Benson