by R. J. Evans
We are so fortunate to live in a country that realizes the need to set aside a special day of “Thanksgiving.” Our nation celebrates this holiday on the fourth Thursday in November — this coming Thursday. However, as Christians, every day should be a day of “thanksgiving” because we have innumerable blessings that come from God each day of our lives.
The Apostle Paul gave much encouragement to the Corinthians concerning the matter of their giving to the needy saints in Jerusalem. He used the churches of Macedonia as an example of some who gave with joy, liberality, willingness, and beyond their ability — despite the fact they were in deep poverty (II Corinthians 8:1-7). After instructing them to give purposefully and cheerfully (II Corinthians 9:7), he went on to assure them that “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God” (II Corinthians 9:12). Take note of the last phrase of this text where he said, “abounding through many thanksgivings to God.”
In order to truly receive God’s bountiful blessings, we must be thankful to God. The matter of giving thanks unto God should come first and foremost in everything we receive. The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Paul instructed the Philippians to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). The more we are thankful, the greater the abundance of the blessings that will be received.
The parable of the prodigal (wasteful) son demonstrates an attitude of ingratitude. He desired to get all that was his, get as far away from his family as he could, and then go out and enjoy himself in “prodigal living.” However, it became his road to disaster. Finally, while in the pigpen, when he came to himself, he became thankful and appreciative for what he had back home, and determined with all his heart to go back with the intention of simply becoming one of his father’s hired servants. We know the joyous ending of this return to his loving father (Luke 15:11-24). This story is a good illustration of how prosperity and wastefulness can produce ingratitude — a failure to be thankful and recognize God as the source of all blessings. See the warnings against this kind of failure in Deuteronomy 6:10-12 and I Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19.
Thankfulness was an attribute of Jesus while here on earth. When He prayed to His Father, He would thank Him for a number of blessings. Before He fed the multitudes, He gave thanks for the food. “Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes” (Matthew 14:19); “And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude” (15:36).
When he raised Lazarus from the dead, He thanked His Father for hearing His prayer: “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me” (John 11:41-42).
Before He gave His disciples the bread and the cup in the memorial of His death (the Lord’s Supper), He gave thanks for the bread and for the cup (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19-20; I Corinthians 11:24-25).
Being thankful is not an option in the life of a Christian if he wants to be spiritually strong — it is a must! David expressed it this way: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks in Your name; The upright shall dwell in Your presence” (Psalms 40:13).
The Apostle Paul said: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).
The giving of thanks is the will of God in our lives. We will enjoy even greater blessings by being thankful for those we have already received. It must be so heartbreaking to God when we are ungrateful for the things that He has provided for us. This is very evident when Jesus healed the ten lepers, but only one of them came back to give thanks for what He had done for him. Jesus responded by asking — “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:11-19). We can just sense the sadness on His part when He asked these questions.
Let us genuinely practice being thankful; it will truly enrich our lives. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalms 69:30).