<<expression of gratitude>>
Thanksgiving is the spoken expression of thankfulness, the attitude of genuine gratitude. Gladness and thanksgiving should distinguish believers because of our appreciation of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross by paying our eternal debt of sin and defeating the devil (Rom 5:8; 1 Jn 3:8). “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” is an expression of praise to God for His numerous blessings while worship focuses on His nature and character (1 Cor 15:57).
The Lord’s Table (communion) is both a time of remembrance and thankfulness for the penalty He paid in our place. It is important to keep our perspective right and rejoice that we are in vital relationship with Him and our name is written in the entrance book to heaven, rather than focusing on the results achievable by being connected to Him (Lk 10:20; Rev 21:27). Although we can’t earn salvation by our efforts and good works we will delight to serve others out of thankfulness to God, for this reflects the nature of Christ (Act 10:38; Eph 2:8-10).
The Bible does not say to thank God for everything that happens to us for evil does not come from God and so we should not thank Him for it, but in every situation we are to have an attitude of thankfulness to God (1 Thes 5:18). This is acknowledging “All things work together for good [regardless of our perspective] to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose” – which is to make us like His Son – so these situations can produce Godly character in us if we respond rightly (Rom 8:28,29). In the midst any circumstance we can thank Him for He is able to use what Satan or others intended for evil and redeem it to His glory and our good, thus “testing and approving God’s good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom 12:2).
God is sovereign over all things at all times as attested by Job after he experienced huge, devastating loss, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). Later he said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” reasoning that it would not be fair or right to take all the good things as a matter of course, and then complain in self-pity if evil things were sent (Job 2:10). He accepted both prosperity and affliction as coming from God, and was willing to submit to His will, having the conviction that whatever God sends to His faithful servants is always what is best, so even afflictions are blessings in disguise and should be received with gratitude.
How do I show gratitude to God?
day when all is going well but how about when all seems to be going wrong? Everyone is tested by undesirable events but the Bible instructs us to be “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything”, understanding the strength of character He’s building into you through these events (Eph 5:20). Perspective is so important – the early Christians praised God, not because they were physically beaten but because they were His children and even this painful experience was a means of outworking the purposes of God (Act 5:40,41, 16:22-25; 1 Pet 1:6,7). Often it is only much later we discern the reason and situation from a God’s-eye view.
Being thankful to God for His ability and power in our lives should be a characteristic of every Christian while complaining dishonours Him by implying criticism of His handling of our affairs (Ps 50:23; Phil 2:14; Col 2:6,7; 2 Tim 3:1,2). Be determined to focus on the good, the positive and uplifting, rather than what you don’t have or else the negative, emotionally draining, bad things will sour your life. God cares for us and desires we allow the situations of life to make us more like Christ, while the Devil opposes us and tries to discourage and destroy us.
Nurture a lifestyle of thankfulness – give thanks every day for the necessities of life
Our praise and thanksgiving to God should assist us to rise above all our problems. A complaining, thankless attitude opens people up to Satan’s ongoing detrimental influence while Christians should have the opposite mindset (Rom 1:21-32; Col 1:12-14). While the unsaved may complain and grumble, as Christians, we should be known for our positive, appreciative speech (Eph 5:4,20).
The Bible records two incidences when Jesus gave thanks to God for the provision of a few fish and small loaves of bread, in anticipation of a miraculous provision that would see several thousand hungry people satisfied (Mt 14:19, 15:32-36).
In an expression of faith and confidence before the miracle of Lazarus rising from the dead, Jesus thanked God for what was about to happen (Jn 11:41). As redeemed sinners we have been chosen to ‘continually’ offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (Heb 13:15; 1 Pet 2:5). These include our prayers – regularly express thanksgiving “for He is good; His love endures forever”, with praise for the answers already received, besides bringing new requests in Him (Ps 100:4,5, 118:1; Rom 1:8-10, Eph 1:15,16; Phil 4:6).
Expressing genuine appreciation, such as an audible thank you, smile, written message or bunch of flowers, is a social courtesy readily shown to those who have assisted us in some way. These seemingly insignificant gestures provide immense encouragement for others as we acknowledge their assistance. It is uplifting to be with or assist a happy, positive, thankful person, yet a draining experience when with a negative, complaining person.