Have you noticed that the further a culture falls away from God, the less grateful it becomes and the closer a culture comes to following God, the more grateful it is. The same, of course is true for each of us as individuals. If we are believers and the closer we stay in fellowship with God through time in His Word and in communication with Him and in fellowship with fellow believers, the more grateful our hearts and the less our circumstances matter in our attitude.
As I think about the theme of thankfulness in light of this being Thanksgiving week in the United States, I can’t help but reflect on the many times in Scripture when we find men and women offering thanks to God. Their example clearly teaches us to express our thanks, both for the tangible gifts God gives us—home, food, family, health, friends, a job, etc.—but also for the spiritual blessings He sends our way—“God sightings” of His love and mercy in our everyday lives.
Thankfulness is one of the major themes in Scripture and one of the greatest indicators of the condition of the human heart. In the King James Version, “Thanksgiving,” “Give thanks,” “Be thankful,” and “Thankfulness” appear a total of 133 times! Here is just a small sampling (from NASB):
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving…” (Psa. 50:14)
“I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psa. 69:30)
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise, give thanks to Him, bless His name” (Psa. 100:4)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6)
“Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as your were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Col. 2:7)
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful” (Col. 3:15)
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2)
“Therefore I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD, among the nations, and I will sing praises to Thy name” (II Sam. 22:50)
“O give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people…O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for
His loving kindness is everlasting” (I Chr. 16:8,34…repeated in Psa. 107:1; 118:1,29; 136:1,2,3,26)
“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thes. 5:18)
“Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:20).
You will note the we are to give thanks, not only in everything (I Thes. 5:18), but for everything (Eph. 5:20). And then we can throw in Phil. 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” So, Rejoice! Give thanks! That’s easy to do when things are going well, but how about when we’ve lost our job, or have serious health problems, or a loved one dies? Rejoice? Give thanks? You’ve got to be kidding! No, the Apostle Paul wasn’t kidding. He meant every word, for He knew the God revealed in the Bible. That was what the Psalmist had also discovered when He repeatedly wrote: “O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His loving kindness (mercy) is everlasting.” Until we are convicted in our heart that God is both Great and Good—all the time, we won’t be able to “Rejoice” or “Give Thanks” in and for all things. Because Paul knew that God is sovereign and God is good, He could write: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (to be conformed to Christ’s image)” (Ro. 8:28,29). As a result of knowing the character of God, Paul had a “Thank-You Theology,” as illustrated when Paul and Silas were stripped of their robes, beaten with rods and placed in stocks in a filthy prison cell in Philippi for sharing the transforming power of the Gospel (Acts 16:16-24). Their response? “But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God” (v. 25).
So, this Thanksgiving week, meditate on the verses above and ask God to show you that He is both Great and Good and develop a “Thank-You Theology.”
”Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.” (Give Thanks by Henry Smith)