(Part 1) Thanksgiving: A Weighty Matter

The pages of Scriptures are saturated with various themes. You don’t have to scour through much of the Bible before you pick up on the theme of God’s love, His sovereignty, or His plan of redemption.

One such theme that might not immediately come to mind as quickly as God’s love but has a substantive place among the subjects in the Bible is thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving (n): The expression of gratitude, especially to God.

Thanksgiving is not an obscure biblical concept, but the authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit talk about it with such frequency that it shows us its importance.

Think about new grandparents. They can’t wait to tell you about their grandkids. Why? Because they love them and their grandkids are a significant part of their lives. We talk about what we love and value. We talk about what is important to us. The same is true in the Bible. One way Scripture writers communicated to their audience what was important was to repeat ideas, words, and themes often.

Thanksgiving is one of these themes that we see throughout the Bible talked about by different authors, in various genres, and across different time periods. The collective weight of Scripture’s communication on thanksgiving tells us that it is important.

Why does the Bible give so much weight to giving God thanks?

The Bible commands us to give thanks not because God is looking to receive credit for things the same way we want our ‘attaboys’ and high fives for ideas and accomplishments. No, God knows that it’s not only fitting for us to give him thanks but it benefits us.

Like most things, it’s more for our good than we first may realize. I know what my daughter needs more than she does at this stage in her life. When I tell or ask her to do something, it’s for her good, even if she doesn’t see it or understand it. John Piper recently made this statement about the worship of God. He said,

“God seeks our worship, not because it meets his need, but because it meets our need.”

John Piper’s quote on the worship of God also applies thanksgiving. God knows that it’s for our good that we give Him thanks.

How so?

My heart, if left unchecked, wanders to some dark places.

  • I believe I deserve more praise than I do.
  • I think more of myself than I ought to think.
  • I require more of others than I demand of myself.
  • I consider myself more equipped to solve problems, be creative, set agendas, and make plans than others and even God himself.

Fundamentally, I think I should be doing God’s job. Now, I wouldn’t say this aloud and may not even consciously think it, and you probably wouldn’t either. But it’s what we believe deep down in the recesses of our hearts that we only see glimpses as it’s revealed by our actions, attitudes, and thoughts.

But God sees into the deep and dark recesses of the heart. He knows what we are blind too and what we ignore. Amazingly, he doesn’t immediately strike us down in our rebellion.

But He gives us grace. One grace that He gives us is the command to give thanks.

How is this grace?

There is a refrain in the Old Testament that it’s readers and hearers knew well.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34.

This anthem was more than a mindless mantra for God’s people. The command to give God thanks serves as an anchor for wandering hearts. Genuine thanksgiving to God is a grace to us because it reorients our hearts toward him. It reminds me of who I am in relation to him.

“Give thanks to the Lord…”

Who is most deserving of our thanks? To whom does the Bible command us to give thanks?

God.

Give thanks to the Lord. Giving thanks to God reminds me of who He is.

  • The Lord. Yahweh. His covenant name.
  • He is the Promise Maker.
  • He is the Promise Keeper.
  • He is our Creator.
  • He is our Sustainer.
  • He is the Giver.
  • He is Redeemer.

Giving thanks to God reminds me of his character and reorients my heart toward him. He is God. I am not. It also reminds me of what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever.

Every action of the Lord originates from his goodness. He is good and his love endures forever.

When I begin with myself as the center of the universe and place of prominence in life, it’s easy to question God’s goodness and love. It’s easy to perceive things that happen in my life or even lack of things as an absence of God’s favor, goodness, and love. But giving thanks to him dispels such sinful navel-gazing very quickly and lifts my eyes up to him.

Giving thanks gets us in proper alignment. Giving thanks to God is an anchor for my soul reminding me of who God is, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do.

Paul wrote to give thanks without ceasing.

It’s easy to get out of alignment. Thanksgiving offers the grace of correction.

For those of us out of practice, November may be a good time to start.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever.

Article By: Gabriel Hinerman

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