God’s main personality attribute is holiness declared at His throne night and day (Isaiah 6.3). From this flows His love, for God is love (1 John 4.8.), and we love Him in return since He first loved us. (1 Peter 1.8).
In this alone is enough to fill a human being’s whole life with thanksgiving and gratitude!
How is this love of ours shown? The only proof is our loyal, consistent, and undying obedience to all His commands (John 13.35, 14.15, 21). We’re to be holy in all our behavior (1 Peter 1.15). In this we can please Him in all respects (Colossians 1.8).
There is nothing as prominent, we dare say, in the Word of God and His beloved doctrines as being thankful. It permeates the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. As a matter of fact, the opposite is grumbling and disputing. This is reflected in both Covenants, both Old and New. And since there is no vacuum, or neutral position, we’re only able to display one or the other.
Numbers 14:26-27 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me…”
Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…
Why do we give thanks to God, our gratitude? For who He is, what He has done, and will do in the future. He is worthy of all thanks and praise. All thanks is given to God the Father, as are all our prayers. And it is to this end of thanksgiving, that we offer this brief but fascinating study!
Of course, praise is a part of the family of thanksgiving and is kin to it as a way to give thanks. But we save that word group for another post.
The Old Covenant record
In the Old Covenant, thanksgiving has a major role. Although we can be sure Adam and Eve were thankful before their fall, there is nothing to specifically describe this.
It is when Noah unloads the arc, builds an altar and makes sacrifice that we can be rest assured this is the first “thanksgiving” after the Great Flood. After all, God had just destroyed the entire world! Because the Bible is Middle Eastern high context vs. low context for the west, the mid-eastern Semitic readers would know this act was an act of thanksgiving without actually saying so in the text.
Genesis 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Moses in his Song declares the mighty acts of God in their Res Sea crossing as thanksgiving. Here are just the first two verses in the passage.
Exodus 15:1-2 Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him..”
After receiving the law at Mt. Sinai, the Lord further enunciates His laws in Leviticus with the thanks offering. Notice this is a conditional phrase, “so that…”
Leviticus 22:29 “When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted…”
David declares his thanks after God delivers Him from Saul and his enemies.
2 Samuel 22:50 “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, And I will sing praises to Your name.
Jehoshaphat helps the people to give thanks for their coming victory over their enemies.
2 Chronicles 20:21 When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
In the book of Nehemiah, we see a passage described with the hymns of thanksgiving.
Nehemiah 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God.
The Psalms and Thanksgiving
The Psalms are replete with the thanksgiving toward God and often described as a sacrifice that costs us something.
Psalm 9:1 I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
Psalm 26:7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders.
Psalm 30:12 That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalm 50:23 “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”
Psalm 75:1 We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks, For Your name is near; Men declare Your wondrous works.
Psalm 100:4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
Psalm 107:8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!
Psalm 147:7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises to our God on the lyre…
We see our brother Daniel’s courage to give thanks in the middle of life threatening events.
Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.
The New Covenant record
Of course, we see Jesus Christ giving thanks as the perfect example without sin. Both of these are in the context of receiving food to eat which should give us some example of the importance of this act.
Matthew 15:36 and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
Luke 22:19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
And also at the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
John 11:41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me…”
In the NT record, the underlying Greek word group is where we get the English word Eucharist.
Here is the information: eucharisteô; verb, to be thankful; List of English Words and Number of Times Used: gave thanks (2), give…thanks (1), give thanks (8), given thanks (6), gives thanks (2), giving thanks (7), thank (9), thanked (1), thanks (1), thanks may be given (1).
Then we have the noun from this word family: eucharistia; noun; thankfulness, giving of thanks; List of English Words and Number of Times Used: giving of thanks (3), gratefully (1), gratitude (2), thankfulness (1), thanks (2), thanksgiving (4), thanksgivings (2).
Probably the most renowned passage is out of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and the peace that is promised when we obey this admonition. It’s combined here below with the Colossians passage that also matches our alert and devoted prayer with thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication (begging and beseeching) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…
Paul also thanks God the Father for the saints and their good works, and his ministry in: Romans 1:8 …because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world; 1 Corinthians 15:57 …who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:3 …in all my remembrance of you; Colossians 1:3-4 …since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 1 Thessalonians 2:13 …when you received the word of God…performs its work in you who believe; 1 Timothy 1:12 …because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; 2 Timothy 1:3 …as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day; Philemon 1:4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers…
Again, in the wonderful book of Colossians which speaks to the supremacy of Christ, we see that peace and thankfulness tied together, and all that we do is done with thankfulness.
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Colossians 3:17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Even in Christ’s Revelation we see this vital action.
Revelation 4:9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever…
Revelation 7:11-12 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
Revelation 11:16-17 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign…”
A sobering and encouraging assessment, is it not? So then, let us be always about being thankful and overflowing with gratitude.
Colossians 2:6-7 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
When and for what?
How often and for what you might ask?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father…
In everything give thanks, not for everything, but in everything. And always giving thanks. And overflowing with gratitude.
What happens if we fail at this? The next verse utters a warning much more debilitating than only grieving the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit…
We’re reminded once again His commandments are to be kept implicitly and of their type of burden. That is the essence and requirement of overcoming faith regarding our victorious assault against the world’s ways.
Matthew 11:29-30 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
1 John 5:2-4 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Amen. We trust you’re thankful for this brief study! And we’re thankful that you’re thankful.
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy Ministries, www.WalkWorthy.org