As we fast approach one of the most important holidays of the year, I thought it would be good to ask everyone to examine themselves in the light of God’s goodness and mercy. Thanksgiving ought to be celebrated every day of the year, as we offer God our gratitude and thanks for all He has done for us.
Four times in the book of Psalms, chapter 107 (vv 8, 15, 21 and 31), the writer declares “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Do you think the Lord was telling us to be thankful enough to praise Him for all He’s done? I certainly do, and we should consider it not only our duty, but also our joy and privilege to give honor to the one true living God.
The Apostle Paul, writing in Colossians 3:15 declares “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” What a powerful scripture. The command to be thankful is an imperative, spoken with authority and intensity. It is like a military order which must be obeyed. Paul was not implying it’s okay to be thankful if we feel like it; rather, we are to be thankful with a purpose and intention. Genuine thankfulness touches the heart of God.
Most everyone I know has felt the pinch of these lean economic times and have been adversely affected by a great deal of belt tightening. Looking at life through eyes which have seen better times, it is not difficult to focus more on the problems at hand than on the promises of God. The reality is simple: our hearts don’t want to praise God during tough times. Some may even feel as though God has completely forgotten about them in the midst of all the troubles surrounding them. Rest assured, that is far from the case.
What does the Word of God have to say on the subject of offering thanksgiving? Is it just something we do when all is well, or should we look for opportunity to praise the Lord in every situation? Let’s look at the following scriptures for some clarity on the matter:
- (Colossians 4:2, KJV) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
- (Philippians 4:6, KJV) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
- (Daniel 6:10, KJV) Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
- (Psalms 50:14, KJV) Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
- (Jonah 2:9, KJV) But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.
What about iniquity? Is it wrong to be unthankful? I believe the answer to that question would have to be a resounding “yes”, and the scriptures bear witness to that fact. Let’s read II Timothy 3:1-7
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Please note how “unthankful” is included in the above list between disobedience and unholy. That’s some pretty bad company, in my opinion. Are you unthankful, or do you have an “attitude of gratitude” about you, being thankful for God’s great blessings and mercy?
Regarding ingratitude, Bennie S. Triplett wrote the following in his book SERMONS for Holidays, Holy Days, and Special Occasions, Volume One:
- Shakespeare said “I hate ingratitude more in a man than lying, vainness, babbling drunkenness.”
- Milton said “Being unthankful is besotted and base.”
- Young said “Once they are guilty of being unthankful, all other crimes may pass for virtues.”
- Colter said “Brutes leave ingratitude to humans.”
When do we give thanks? The Word of God declares in I Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” We give thanks not only for the good things which come our way, but also for the bad. We give thanks for the seasons God gave us: for the heat of summer and cold of winter. Both are a part of God’s wonderful plan for His creation, and whatever we see and experience can be made sweeter when we acknowledge God’s guidance with thankful hearts.
The question we all need to ask ourselves this year is – “How Thankful Am I?” If I were to list all the things to be thankful for, much ink and paper would be used; God has so richly blessed my family and me. Are you truly thankful?