Drinking Deeply

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Thanking one another

One of my cohorts recently posted a thought provoking post on his blog arguing that in the Bible, thanksgiving is only directed toward God, and therefore instead of saying, "thank you," we ought to say, "I thank God for you."

I liked his idea, but ended up not agreeing with it, and wrote briefly in response. Here's my comment -

Hey Dieudonne -

It's Mickey here, and I found your blog through Jeff. I thought this is an interesting argument, but I must say I'm not entirely convinced that thanksgiving is given exclusively to God, while I think I would totally agree if you said, "God is the first person we should thank" or "God is the primary person we should thank."

I think the Luke 17 passage would support a belief that men are to be thanked. And we can see that if we flip the rhetorical question around an examine an implied premise.

Luke 17:7–10 (ESV)
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”

v.9 says "Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?"

This is a rhetorical question - and when we change it to an indicative, we would say, "The master does not thank the servant for doing what was commanded." And this statement is the reason for the statement in v. 10,

"So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’"

So Jesus' logic is:

A master does not thank the servant for doing what is commanded

Therefore:

You should not be desiring thanks for doing what you are commanded.

But this would be a bad argument for Jesus if it was never appropriate to thank the servant. Jesus argument should have been:

1) It is inappropriate to expect thanks for anything
2) Therefore, you should not expect thanks for doing your duty.

Therefore, the implied assumption of v.9 (in order to make the logic work) is "A servant only deserves thanks if they do more than what is commanded."

And that is why I don't entirely agree with your conclusion that we ought to thank God rather than thanking one another. Instead, I would say we should thank God as we thank one another.

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