20 November 2012

On the Giving of Thanks

It's Thanksgiving time in the United States. It's a time when Americans focus their thoughts on several things: Christmas shopping, family, football, turkey, parades, time off, etc. Many believers will focus their time and attention upon giving thanks for the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon them. In light of this, I would like to take a brief look at some of the principles we can glean from God's Word about thanksgiving.

First, giving thanks to God simply for Him being God is an important principle. The Greek verb εὐχαριστέω (eucharisteo) is used 39 times in the New Testament. All but one of these Scriptures has to do with giving thanks to God. In Romans 1:21, Paul states that there are those who reject God and that, "although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him." This verse expresses two things; mankind has failed to glorify God for being God, and they were not thankful to Him for being God. Being thankful, then, is described as an expression of gratitude to God for being God.

Second, this same Greek verb conveys the understanding that the giving of thanks is a response to the grace of the Lord. We give thanks in response to His grace, which is first ministered to us. Eὐχαριστέω embodies the same understanding as that applied to "love" in 1 John 4:19, "We ourselves love Him, because He Himself first loved us." (Literal Translation.) God loves and gives grace first, then we respond in love and thanksgiving. In addition, we know that the more we are exposed to God's love, the more we love Him in return. This is also true of being exposed to God's grace; the more we are exposed to His grace upon us, the more we give thanks in return.

The third principle is that our response of giving thanks to the Lord is based upon experiencing the sufficiency of His grace. We see the sufficiency of God's grace being poured out upon Paul when the apostle says that he prayed three times to have his thorn in the flesh removed. The Lord answers, as recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you." We see from this example, that God knows what we need (considerably better than we do, ourselves) and He supplies ALL that we need.

God's grace enables us to give thanks in spite of our circumstances because in every situation God, with all of His attributes, in the full glory of His nature, is ministering His all-sufficient grace to us. In response, we love Him and give thanks from a grateful heart. The more we experience all that God is, His sufficiency, His provision for us in Jesus Christ, the more our love for Him grows; the more giving thanks becomes a natural part of our expression back to Him. 

"In everything be giving thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Literal Translation).

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