Expressing gratitude, being thankful is a quality we appreciate in others. All of us long for people to show their gratitude for the things we do. Giving thanks is commanded and commended in the Bible. Living with an attitude of thanksgiving is promoted in the Scripture also. The Old Testament Hebrew word denoting “thanks” is hard to translate. Various translations have sometimes rendered it “thanks” and sometimes “praise”. The object of that thanksgiving was always God Himself. Often it was accompanied by a proclamation of God’s mighty deeds to the watching world. Thus, it seems to me that the main point is that thanks and praise are inseparably intertwined and that we ought to regularly and consistently direct it towards God, while making it widely known to others. Giving thanks in the Old Testament almost always included the idea of magnifying God. Our words and actions do not make God any larger or smaller, but they do act as a magnifying lens or reducing lens, making God appear larger or smaller to others. We ought to endeavor to always magnify the Lord. With very few exceptions, those of us who live in the United States of America have lived in relative luxury. When compared with times past and with other parts of the world, we have experienced lives filled with great and abundant provision. Almighty God, Creator of the universe and all it contains, has gone to great lengths to make abundant provision for us in every way.
The New Testament is filled with examples of thankfulness. Jesus is clearly shown giving thanks to His Father on several occasions. He gave thanks for food, for miracles, for His Father hearing Him, for the understanding granted to His disciples. Romans chapter one makes it very plain that it is the duty of all mankind to give thanks to the Creator. When Paul arrived in Rome as a prisoner, he was visited by some believers. It prompted him to give thanks to God. We ought to learn from Paul and those believers. We should take care to encourage others. We should thank those who encourage us but we should also remember to thank/praise God for those who encourage us. Colossians 3:16-17 shows us how everything we do, no matter how trivial or mundane can become an act of worship if we do it in a spirit of thanksgiving to God. Philippians 4:6 tells us not to be anxious about what we do not have, but rather to be thankful for what we do have and for what God will provide in the future. Ephesians 5:19 declares that our corporate time of prayer/worship should be characterized by thankfulness. Ephesians 5:4 tells us that when we become believers in Christ, thanksgiving must replace obscenity, foolishness, coarse jokes, etc. Scripture tells us to be thankful in all things. Paul took time to give thanks for food in the face of an imminent shipwreck.
1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 9:15 says, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (NASU) We deserve nothing more than eternal separation from God. Everything else, air, water, food, shelter, life, eternal life is purely undeserved, the result of unmerited mercy and grace. 1 Timothy 3:2 tells us that being ungrateful is one of the identifying characteristics of apostate humanity during the end times. The great proclamations of the elders around the throne in Revelation chapters 4, 7, and 11 all turn quickly and often to thankfulness to Him who sits on the throne forever and ever. This Thanksgiving season and all year long take time to thank Him from whom all blessings flow. If you are a believer in Christ that is exactly what you will be doing for all eternity.
STEVE ELLISON is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at email@example.com.