It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)
Gratitude to God is a joyful emotion. We have a sense of joyful indebtedness for his grace. So in a sense in the very emotion of gratitude, we are still the beneficiaries. But by its very nature, gratitude glorifies the giver. When we feel thankful, we acknowledge our need and God’s beneficence, God’s fullness, the riches of his glory.
Just like I humble myself and exalt the server in the restaurant when I say, “Thank you,” so I humble myself and exalt God when I feel gratitude to him. The difference, of course, is that I really am infinitely in debt to God for his grace, and everything he does for me is free and undeserved.
But the point is that gratitude glorifies the giver. It glorifies God. And this is Paul’s final goal in all his labors. Yes, his labors are for the sake of the church — the good of the church. But the church is not the highest goal. Listen again: “It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” All for your sake — for the glory of God!
The wonderful thing about the gospel is that the response it requires from us for God’s glory is also the response that is most natural and joyful; namely, thankfulness for grace. God’s all-supplying glory in giving and our humble gladness in receiving are not in competition. Joyful thankfulness glorifies God.
A life that gives glory to God for his grace and a life of deepest gladness are the same life. And what makes them one is thankfulness.