Be Thankful Always!
“Be Thankful Always!”
Thanksgiving. It is a commonly used word, but do we reflect on what it means? In this season, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, but do we really focus on its importance? 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. Opportunities to complain, argue, and become afraid and discouraged are numerous. However, the command of the LORD to be thankful is still in operation for us all. Indeed, it is the mark of the believer in Jesus Christ to be thankful as a way of life. In this article, I just want to give a timely and helpful reminder that we, as God’s People, are to stand out “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Phil. 2:15) and be noted for our attitude and practice of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is an important theme in both the Old and New Testaments. The original Hebrew words translated as thanksgiving in the Old Testament mean “to acknowledge, to give thanks, to praise.” They can be used to refer to prayers, offerings, and sacrifices. It is similar for the original Greek words in the New Testament. A quick search of the English Standard Version shows that “thanksgiving” is used 42x, “give thanks” 74x, “giving thanks” 10x and “thankfulness” 3x. Thus, we see that the concept of thanksgiving is important in the Word of God, and that should be reflected in the life and behavior of the People of God.
As we look at different biblical characters, we see David giving thanks (1 Chron 16:8) as well as the Levites (Neh. 12:24), the musicians (2 Chron 5:13), Jonah (Jonah 2:9), Daniel (Dan. 2:23), Asaph (Ps. 75:1), and the people (Ps. 100:4-5). In the New Testament, we see Jesus giving thanks (Matt, 11:25; Jn. 11:41), as well as Anna (Lk. 2:38), Paul (1 Cor. 1:4) the Apostles (Act 5:41), the throngs of heaven (Rev. 7:12) and all of the people of God (Col. 3:15-16). Many other examples could be given from the Scriptures, but the point is clear: Thanksgiving is a proper response to God for who He is and what He has done for us.
Here are some clear biblical exhortations to give thanks:
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
“Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12).
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Col. 3:17).
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” ( 1 Thess. 5:18).
“And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever . . . . they cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:9, 11).
“And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign’” (Rev. 12:16-17).
I encourage you to do your own personal study on thanksgiving. As you read through the Bible, take note of the circumstances in which people give thanks, look at the reasons for which they give thanks, and list the names of those who are recorded as giving thanks. Then, for the sake of personal application, begin to make your own list of the things and blessings for which you are thankful. You might even share that list with others around you because thanksgiving, like complaining, is contagious. It is better to share with others what is good than what is not good.
My prayer for you is that as difficult as perhaps 2020 has been, that you will resolve to end the year as a thankful person. An attitude of gratitude is not only pleasing to the LORD, it is useful to those around you. In wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving and holiday season, I end this article with a poem entitled, “Forgive Me When I Whine.” It is written by Red Foley, a country music singer, songwriter, and poet.
Forgive Me When I Whine
Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid with golden hair;
I envied her – she seemed so sweet, and how, I wished I were so fair;
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two feet, the world is mine.
And when I stopped to buy some sweets, the lad who served me had such charm;
He seemed to radiate good cheer, his manner was so kind and warm;
I said, “It's nice to deal with you, such courtesy I seldom find”;
He turned and said, “Oh, thank you sir.” And then I saw that he was blind.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine, I have two eyes, the world is mine.
Then, when walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue;
He stood and watched the others play, it seemed he knew not what to do;
I stopped a moment, then I said, “Why don't you join the others, dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two ears, the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I'd go, with eyes to see the sunsets glow,
With ears to hear what I would know. I am blessed indeed.
The world is mine; oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Pr. Gregg Hensel