It is good to give thanks to the LORD (ESV); so records the Word of God in Psalm 92:1. In fact one aspect of godliness is thankfulness. However, we see around us today that people are “unthankful” which is one feature of the perilous times described in 2 Timothy 2:1-5. This matter of giving thanks therefore is of great importance. A thankful attitude leads to a thankful life which is a God pleasing life. Unthankfulness, on the other had shows that the spirit of this age has infected our beings.
Giving thanks to the LORD.
A practical illustration of how the giving of thanks displays our attitude towards God is seen in Luke 17:11-19. Here ten lepers were healed, but only one returned to give thanks to the healer the LORD Jesus. The nine who were cleansed, but did not return to the LORD showed that they only wanted to have the blessings that God gave, but did not want to please Him in their lives. The other man by his returning and thanking the LORD proved that He was grateful to the LORD and wanted to honour Him in His life. This last man received, not just cleansing, but the full blessing of God in salvation (see v19).
This reminds us of how the vast majority of people around us take God’s blessings for granted. They have food, clothing, homes and the use of many, if not all, their senses, but they will not return to give thanks to the One who gives these things. Whereas the Christian should regularly be in position of giving thanks to His LORD and master who gives all good things. We should remember every good and perfect gift is from above, and coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. How thankful we should be.
And of course this should lead us to be thankful above all from God’s unspeakable gift in the LORD Jesus Christ. After encouraging the Corinthian believers to give, Paul explodes with His great affirmation. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15). When we think of what God has done in sending forth His Son to be our Saviour; we should regularly be thanking God for His great love towards us in Christ Jesus.
At this point we can challenge ourselves with regard to how easily we forget to thank the LORD for all His goodness towards us. We might ask of Him something in prayer and then forget to give thanks when He so graciously answers. The psalmist says Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:2).
Giving thanks for and to one another.
Paul was a man who was regularly thanking God for His untold mercies. One aspect of his thanksgiving was to be thankful for His fellow Christians. So to the Phillipians he says I thank my God every time I remember you. (Phil. 1:3); to Timothy he says I thank God,….., as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. (2Tim. 1:3); to the Corinthians I always thank my God for you because of his grace given to you in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:4), and to the Thessalonians 2 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.(2Thess 1:3)
But what does this teach us? There are two things:-
The first is that we should be seizing opportunities to be thankful in the presence of God for our fellow believers. When we see spiritual progress; we should be swift to be thankful to our God who gives such progress. Such a readiness to give thanks in the presence of God will also act as a bulwark against any roots of bitterness growing in our hearts towards one another. When was the last time you thanked God for his work in a fellow believer?
We should be ready to tell others that we are thanking God for them. A consequence of this is that we will be encouraging others to persevere in their Christian life. When was the last time you told a fellow Christian you had been thanking God for them?
This further reminds us that our first reaction to anything good that happens to us should be to turn to God and give thanks. However, the building of fellowship between one another means that we should seize opportunities to appreciate one another. One aspect of this is to be thankful to others when they show us some kindness. This is surely one aspect of obeying our LORD’S injunction; A new command I give you: love one another. (John 13:34).
The benefits of giving thanks.
One critical ingredient of a life that is moving on for God is thankfulness. After exhorting the colossians to live godly lives towards one another, Paul tells them to be thankful. And after exhorting the Ephesians to keep away from sinful things especially in their speech, Paul says that there should rather be “giving of thanks” in their lives. Almost we might deduce from these desires of Paul that thankfulness is the soil which provides the nutrients for the development of a healthy life which is godly in Christ Jesus.
So in view of these things let us, as the chorus says, “give thanks with a grateful heart”.
(Taken (and adapted) from Feltham Evangelical Newsletter May 2004)