The Natural Response to Salvation
Imagine you fall off the side of a cruise ship and, not knowing how to swim, begin to drown. Someone on the deck spots you, flailing in the water and throws you a life preserver. It lands directly in front of you and, just before losing consciousness, you grab hold for dear life. They pull you up onto the deck, and you cough the water out of your lungs. People gather around, rejoicing that you are safe and waiting expectantly while you regain your senses. After you finally catch your breath, you open your mouth and say: “Did you see the way I grabbed onto that life preserver? How tightly I held on to it? Did you notice the definition in my biceps and the dexterity of my wrists? I was all over that thing!”
Needless to say, it would be a bewildering and borderline insane response. To draw attention to the way you cooperated with the rescue effort denigrates the whole point of what happened, which is that you were saved. A much more likely chain of events is that you would immediately seek out the person who threw the life preserver, and you would thank them. Not just superficially, either. You would embrace them, ask them their name, invite them to dinner, maybe give them your cabin!
Gratitude is a natural response to salvation. It does not require coercion or encouragement; to the extent that the individual understands what has happened, gratitude will flow organically and abundantly from their heart. The precise form it takes will be different every time, but such is the nature of fruit. And giving thanks is essential. (Law and Gospel)
“In all circumstances give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you….” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)