Regardless of whether you acknowledge God or not, His providential care has touched you personally. Each of us, in some manner, has received the grace of God. That is because His favor has been extended to all.
Theologically speaking, this is known as the doctrine of common grace. Dr. Heath Lambert in his excellent book A Theology of Biblical Counseling explains:1
Common grace is the good kindness of God that He shows to all people regardless of whether they have experienced the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ alone. It is called common because it comes to all people—believers and unbelievers alike. It is referred to as grace because this kindness is undeserved.
Psalm 145:9 proclaims that the “Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” Indeed, we have much to be grateful for. We behold and benefit from these divine gifts of kindness day in, day-out.
How so? Lambert dedicates an entire chapter to this subject—common grace, by breaking it out into three categories: moral, physical, and intellectual provision.
1. Divine Moral Provision
[T]he corruption of mankind and… the human race [is best described] as totally depraved… this total depravity means that sin has affected every aspect of mankind. It does not mean that people are as sinful it is possible for them to be. Such an exhaustive level of depravity would make the world miserable and unlivable. We have been spared such a horrendous existence because of God’s common grace.
Let us be thankful to live in a society where there is moral restraint placed upon those who seek to do us great harm. Evil. I remember John MacArthur preaching on this subject; making the point that God has given us the conscience, family, civil authority, and church to help provide these restraints. (Listen to How God Restrains Evil in the Word.)
2. Divine Physical Provision
[H]e also provides for our physical needs in His common grace. One of the clearest places we see this in the Bible is in Matthew 5:43-45: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Jesus urges His hearers to be like God in being kind to people who hate them. The point He makes is that God is kind to all by sending the sun and rain to all people, believers and unbelievers alike. You do not have to be saved to enjoy the sun at the beach or to have crops watered. God sends those blessings to everyone.
Let us be thankful to live in a sphere of the world where we can enjoy many physical blessings. Rails-to-trails, the Jersey Shore, and Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area are a few of my regional favorites.
3. Divine Intellectual Provision
God’s common grace also makes provision for our intellectual life. Saved and unsaved people are able to know correct information. Many unbelievers have access to more accurate information than Christians do.
Let us be thankful for our safe surroundings, where we have many medical and technological advancements that improve upon our lives daily. God has given man intellect and innovation. Imagine our lives without air conditioning, cell phones, electricity, hospitals, and running water.
God’s common grace requires gratitude from Christians because this is one of the main ways God is kind to His people… It is sinful for Christians, who know the God who distributes the grace, to fail to be thankful for the display of that grace.
Are you thankful? If you know Him, you should be.