Tuesday, November 24, 2015

James E. Talmage on gratitude for God's blessings

Elder James E. Talmage (1862-1933) was born in England. He was a brilliant scholar, trained as a geologist and mathematician. But he's perhaps best known today among Church members for his classic writings, including "Jesus the Christ," "The Articles of Faith," and "The Holy Temple." He was called as an apostle in 1911 and served until his death in 1933 at age 70.
"Gratitude is an ennobling quality in man; and he in whose soul it has no place is defective....
"Gratitude is twin sister to humility; pride is a foe to both. The man who has come into close communion with God cannot fail to be thankful; for he feels, he knows, that for all he has and all he is, he is indebted to the Supreme Giver; and one would think that there is no need of commandment in the matter of thanksgiving. Yet we find that because of man's propensities toward forgetfulness and selfishness the Scriptures abound in admonitions to render thanks unto the Lord....
"God requires thanksgiving, praise and worship, not for His gratification as the recipient of adulation, but for the good of His children who thus recognize and acknowledge Him, and so develop that abiding faith, such as shall lead to repentance, without which none can attain salvation in His kingdom."
- James E. Talmage, "Sunday Night Talks by Radio," 1931, p. 483, 486

This is a beautiful, poetic description of the "ennobling quality" of gratitude:

The essence of gratitude, according to Elder Talmage, lies in our recognition of our relationship to God. For one who has reached a state of "close communion" with Divinity, gratitude comes naturally. We sense the source of our blessings because we are close to that source. Sadly, most of us need to be reminded to acknowledge and thank God; that implies we need to work harder on our personal relationship.

I appreciated Elder Talmage's suggestion too about why God asks for our gratitude. It's not for His sake, but for ours. Through our recognition of Him and expressions of thanks, we develop "abiding faith" in Him that can lead us to repentance and eventual salvation.

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