“Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-19).
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:4-6).
“I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17).
“Giving Thanks” - In the age in which we're living, thanksgiving often seems like such an innocent, innocuous, and almost bland idea. We might even think it simply could not be that important in God’s great scheme of things. After all, isn’t it often just a hastily added happy expression at the end of any conversation? A way of affirming a person with whom we have been speaking?
Yet thanksgiving is a central theme in each of the above passages of Scripture. In fact, we find that the Bible commands us to be a people of thanksgiving to God.
What is thanksgiving in the life of a Christian?
As we study the Scriptures, we discover the following truths about why it is important to give thanks:
- Thanksgiving is a way of entering the presence of God, as seen in Psalm 100:4: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name.”
- God says that thanksgiving is the equivalent of an Old Testament sacrifice. See Psalm 116:17 above.
- Thanksgiving is a major part of our worship, as seen in Psalm 147:7: “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!"
- Thanksgiving is a way to magnify God; In other words, to make God large and important, as stated in Psalm 69:30: “I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
- Thanksgiving will be a constant theme in Heaven as we join those who worship around God’s throne, as seen in Revelation 7:12: “Saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
It could even be stated that thanksgiving is one of the hallmarks of a Christian. We are to be a people who are always thankful. While those who don’t know Jesus may live with pessimism, bitterness, and frustration, those who have come to know the hope of Jesus can live with thankfulness and joy!
How should we give thanks?
God's Word gives wisdom in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to guide us in a very clear direction.
We are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It couldn’t be any clearer. It says all circumstances!
Giving thanks in good circumstances? Well, that’s easy, although if we're not careful it can sometimes be forgotten in a positive environment. Giving thanks in bad circumstances? Not so easy. But God expects us to trust him so confidently that even in the worst of times we are certain that his goodness is protecting and guiding us.
Consider the idea of sacrifice.
Sacrifice is a key expression about thanksgiving that is used more than once in God's Word. It says that thanksgiving is a sacrifice. Let’s first look at some notable ideas about this idea of sacrifice:
- Old Testament sacrifice was about worship.
- Old Testament sacrifice required an offering.
- Old Testament sacrifice was about a relationship with that offering.
- Old Testament sacrifice required death and involved the destruction of something personally important to the worshipper, signifying a surrender to God.
- Old Testament sacrifice was about substitution - the offering in place of the worshipper.
- Old Testament sacrifice was usually about atonement for sin - making peace in our relationship with God.
Thanksgiving involves sacrifice.
Thanksgiving is like an Old Testament sacrifice. In many ways, it perfectly follows the list above. Let’s compare:
- Thanksgiving is about worship. It is an act of love honoring God.
- Thanksgiving is a sacrificial offering that is substantive. It is not empty thoughts and words, but thoughts and words carrying the full weight of the offeror, costing him or her serious thought.
- Thanksgiving is a love relationship expressed by an offering as might come from a close relative such as a parent, a child, or a deeply committed worshipper.
- Thanksgiving is nothing less than death to self and surrender of ego.
- The thanksgiving sacrifice is given as a substitution for the servant’s service.
- The thanksgiving sacrifice is in recognition of our sins forgiven and the new relationship with God as his child.
Let's boldly live out God's plan!
Thanksgiving is an act of dying to self, recognizing our sins are forgiven, entering into love and worship of Jesus Christ, and living fully in relationship with him.
That is the beautiful plan that God has designed for each one of us. As we go about the coming holiday and the weeks and months that follow, may we always give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.
Read More Posts About Thankfulness:
Four Simple Ways to Teach Your Kids Gratitude This November - By Emily Harper
"Praise You In The Storm" and All Seasons - By Tanner Pinkerman