It’s a word we probably say hundreds to times a week, a passing comment, a word we have been trained to say so much that we don’t even register when we say it. But it is also a word that carries so much meaning. I was a bit behind with writing thank you cards after Christmas (Ie. Writing them a good month later) and it got me thinking, what does it mean to be really thankful rather than just saying it because it’s the right thing to say?
Right from Leviticus where God sets out how the Israelites are to give ‘offerrings of thankfulness’ (Leviticus 7:12-15) to the Psalms which are wonderful displays of gratitude (Psalm 69, 95, 105 and 136 to name a few) and the majority of Paul’s letters mention it somewhere, thankfulness and gratitude is a major theme running through the Bible both to God and others around us.
Psalm 107:21 says ‘Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.’ He has completely shown this in his most wonderful act of love, He sent his Son so that we could even know the One who we have so much to give thanks to.
When we thank God we recognise all that God has done, we remember his gifts to us and show that we know that all we have – our life, work, friends, family, weather etc – is from him. Thank you God! It keeps us from continually looking inward and a feeling of entitlement. It helps us to develop our relationships with God and with other people.
Being thankful is more than just saying grace before meal times, it’s a basic part of the Christian life. The Bible commands us to ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’.
The phrase ‘in all circumstances’, quite frankly quite scares me. But if we believe in God’s word we can rest in the fact that his faithfulness doesn’t waver (Lamentations 3:22-24) and his grace does not change on whether I have a good or bad day Ephesians 2:8-9 and He promises that His character doesn’t change depending on our circumstances.
Paul Tripp has a ‘Thanksgiving Assessment’ spend some time thinking through these questions:
- Do you find it easier to complain than to give thanks?
- Are you easily irritated and quickly impatient?
- Do mundane hassles get under your skin?
- Would the people who live nearest to you characterize you as a thankful person or a complaining person?
- Do you look at your world and find many reasons to complain because things aren’t going your way?
- Do you look at your world and find yourself blown away at the many reasons you have every day to give thanks?
- Do you view yourself as one who has been constantly short-changed and neglected?
- Do you view yourself as one who has been showered with blessings?
- How often do you grumble “If only I had _____” or “I wish that _____ was different”?
- How often do you whisper thanks to God or communicate thanks to those around you?
Being thankful is such an important theme, yet do we view it that way? I know that more often than not I thank God for things without really considering what I’m saying and why I’m saying it.
Just think the God of all creation, who can do more than we can ask and imagine, is able and wanting to spend time making sure that all our needs are met as individuals.
When we see God for who he is, what else can we do but praise and thank him. Let’s make a point of being thankful.
Psalm 9:1 ‘I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High’