Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday of all, but I don’t limit my times of thanksgiving to just one day a year. In fact, I try to be thankful every day of the year and give thanksgiving…thanksgiving to God. The truth is that God was the first giver. And He gave the most. The Scriptures say, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). How much more can you give, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). We’ll understand just how great a salvation we have when we recognize the fact that we “were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet 1:18-19). That truth should compel us to be even more thankful. The Apostle Paul could have written a whole book on giving thanks (as we shall later see). For example, he said, “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God” (2 Cor 9:12). Paul’s thanksgivings to God overflowed because the church supported the ministry Christ called Paul to.
Thanks for Living
Shortly after God spared Jonah’s life, Jonah suddenly very much appreciated being alive. It was not long after the fish vomited Jonah onto the shore that he said, “I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord”(Jonah 2:9)! The prayer Jonah prayed is very close to a prayer of repentance that many say when the put their trust in Christ. Many have cried out, “my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple” (Jonah 2:7), and in praying to God, many have declared, “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jonah 2:9c)! Since our eternal state before God has been settled, we should “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”(Phil 4:6). Giving thanks to God destroys anxiety, and we know that “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19). Jesus says to seek Him and His righteousness first, and He will meet our needs (Matt 6:33), so “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph 5:4). We should be thankful to God for being alive and we should be thankful to God for our salvation.
Thanksgiving is in the Bible. It really is, but not with all the traditional trimmings we tend to think of. The psalmist knew a lot about giving thanks to God, writing, “let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22)! Our thanks are also a freewill offering to God, as the psalmist wrote, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17), so we should also “offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings” (Amos 4:5) to God. The Apostle Paul was instructing the Church at Colossae, and told them to “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col 4:2). God clearly says that “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23), and that is our purpose…to glorify God! Let us join together and sing, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). Give Him our thanksgiving and say thanks for giving (John 3:16).
Thanks for Others
Once more the Apostle Paul was busy giving thanks (Oh, that others would be so busy). He wrote that “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:4), and that’s a habit I’ve gotten into. When a man offered support for our prison ministry, I sent him a thank you card, and said, “Thank you and I thank God for you.” I figure, that’s biblical because Paul did that. He wrote, “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 Thess 1:3), and to Timothy, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Tim 2:1). Wow! Really Paul? For “all people?” Yes, that’s what he said. Later, he wrote “For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God” (1 Thess 3:9).The Apostle Paul didn’t make his contentment rest with his circumstances (Phil 4:11-13). Otherwise, he surely would have been miserable, but when you live in a state of thankfulness, you are less likely to be discontented.
Let me conclude by praying the same thing Paul prayed for the Church at Colossae that I will pray for you, the readers (lost or saved): “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you” (Col 1:3), and I am thanking God for you now, and praying for you right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re saved or lost, I “always thank God for you…and pray for you” (Col 1:3), the readers. It doesn’t matter if I know you or not. God does, and that’s all that matters. To me, that is thanksgiving as a way of life.