Idolatry is the necessary result of ingratitude. We see this very evidently in Romans 1. We are taught that God has revealed himself to mankind–from the very beginning–through the clear evidence of creation, and mankind is therefore without excuse (Rom. 1:20). We are then told of mankind’s proclivity, that: “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Rom. 1:21).”
Though God had made Himself manifestly evident to mankind, we both refused to glorify God (i.e. rendering to Him the honor, worship & obedience due Him), and we were ungrateful for the two-fold fact that God had shown Himself to us and given us the faculties of understanding and recognizing Him as the only God. We know there is a God, we see His handiwork all around us in creation (i.e. Natural Revelation), and refusing to glorify Him (which, as the confession puts it so well, is our chief end) is nothing more than arch-ingratitude.
God made us wise, sentient, able to perceive Him in His creation, and instead we refused to render Him the proper thankfulness for His good gifts unto us. He gave us eyes and we chose to spite Him and pluck them out. The following two verses points out the profound folly of such disobedience and ingratitude “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things (Rom. 1:22-23).”
God gave us the gift of wisdom and ability to know which far surpasses the dumb beasts; rather than worship Him, obey Him, and be grateful for His gift of making Himself known to us and making us able to know Him, we chose to debase ourselves and worship idols in the likeness of things far beneath us, and render worship unto them instead. The irony is, God made man in His image and man is far more like God than the chimpanzees are like man. Whenever man worships idols he is by necessity also profoundly ungrateful. One would think that we would see the folly of worshipping that which is inferior to us instead of what is infinitely superior to us; but our rebellion is such that we willfully debase ourselves.
This week we set aside a day for a reflection of what we are thankful for; first on our list should be the fact that we are not dumb beasts, and we can actually reflect on what we are thankful for and that this blessing (and all the others) flows from God alone. Thanksgiving is as intrinsic a part of our worship of God, as turkey is an intrinsic part of the Thanksgiving Feast.