“Thank You in Advance”
One of my pet peeves (and I have many – too many probably but that’s another article) is the use of the phrase “Thank you in advance.” (And yes, I know some people have a pet peeve about authors who overuse parenthetical comments…but I digress).
Back to “Thank you in advance.” How can you do that? How can you thank someone for something they’ve neither done nor yet agreed to do without the “thank you in advance” being coercive and manipulative? You can’t, of course, which is the user’s intent – to guilt you into doing something by thanking you for doing it while asking you to do it.
I especially disregard fund raising requests that come that way. From colleges (I had a long conversation once with a development officer about why I thought that was a counterproductive phrase), from churches, from not-for-profits. It doesn’t matter. Occasionally, I will hold my nose and respond to an organization I really care about if they use the phrase, but grudgingly. It just feels….wrong.
“Thank you” is always a responsive phrase. Someone has done something – something kind or good or thoughtful – and in response you say “thank you.” You don’t anticipate or expect the kindness. You respond to it.
So it is in our spiritual life. We don’t believe either that God owes us anything or that we can coerce God’s goodness (as in “Dear God, please give me a new car for Christmas. Thank you in advance. Amen.”) God gives to us, graces us, blesses us. We do nothing to earn it or deserve it. It comes to us as a gift. Salvation comes to us as a gift. New life comes to us as a gift. Jesus comes to us as a gift.
The trick is in being sure to say “thank you” once you recognize the gift. To live appropriately responsively. To say “thank you” when you should. Thus endeth the lesson. Thank you in advance for paying attention.
Grace and peace to you.