While passing out Halloween candy this year, I observed this frequent interaction between kids and parents. I would give a boy or girl some candy, and a parent would ask the child, “What do you say?” The kid would then say, “thank you.”
Parents spend a great deal of time and energy reminding their kids to say thank you. It’s something that we have to teach our kids because we don’t do it naturally.
The same is true of us regarding God. Giving thanks to him is not natural. In fact, withholding our thanks from him is what comes naturally to us. We rob him of the thanks of which he is due.
Paul wrote to the saints in Rome,
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Romans 2:19-23).
We start our lives unable and unwilling to thank God. We don’t recognize him as God or his authority over us.
For those of us who have become Christians by his grace, our eyes are now open to this, and we realize we have much for which to thank him.
Like little children learning to say thank you, God’s children must learn to give thanks. Initially, it’s easy to say thank you especially thanking him for salvation. What about as the weeks, months, and years go on after our conversion. Are we becoming more of a thankful people? We should be. How can we grow in the area of thanksgiving?
Let me suggest a simple two-step process in giving thanks.
Reflecting allows us the time where we can step back and see where God has been at work.
We need to develop the habit of taking time to pause and reflect. Our fast-paced and bloated schedules make us prone to fall into a season where we don’t practice deep and meaningful reflection. I believe that neglecting this hurts our thanksgiving muscles and they begin to atrophy.
When I allow myself to get too busy to reflect, it becomes easier to make assumptions and take God’s work in my life for granted. When things go awry, it’s easier to question his goodness, his love, or his presence. When everything is turning up roses, I’m prone to think that I deserve the credit. A steady diet of reflection helps keep me grounded to my dependence upon him for everything and his active love for me in all things.
Strive to set time aside to practice reflection. If you can do this every day that’d be great. Maybe once a week fits better into your schedule. My goal is to start my day by jotting down three things for which I’m thankful. You can write in a journal, type on a computer, talk with family or friends. It might be a good exercise to engage in at dinner with the family when recounting the day. I’ve found this practice enables me to slow down for a brief time to think about what’s happening in my life. I can examine my heart and soul and see where God has been at work in and around me.
Thanksgiving starts in our hearts and proceeds to action. Our hearts must first be stirred which is what reflection does for us, and then we respond. Thanksgiving is an act. You can give thanks in numerous ways.
In the Bible, we see that God’s people offered him thanks through speech, songs, prayers, writings, with instruments, with offerings, with choirs, among peoples and before nations, and with their whole hearts.
We learn that we can’t stay silent. We have to give thanks to God. The who is more important than the how, but the how is necessary. We should consider how we will give thanks to God.
Maybe you’ll sing a song that displays your gratitude. You could give a financial gift to the Lord to your church beyond your standard offering. You can keep a journal with entries expresses thanks to God for what he has done.
The simplest way is to tell him thanks. He is a person. He is our Father for those who know him in a saving way. We can speak with him. So, praying is a perfect way to give thanks. We saw this modeled by our Lord Jesus while he was on earth.
Be specific. Again, times of reflection will help us be more specific when offering thanks beyond generalities for these blessings. God does specific things, gives specific gifts, and does so for specific people. When giving thanks, be specific.
One of the best ways we can give God thanks is by telling others of his works.
One of my dad’s favorite Scripture verses was Psalm 66:16. In this verse of the song, the psalmist wrote, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul.”
I think about this verse often. Both the psalmist and my dad had spent time reflecting on what God had done for them. Their response was to tell others. This act of worship is an act of thanks.
November is a good time of year to develop the habit of thanksgiving. I hope this simple two-step process encourages you to reflect on God’s work and respond with thanks.
Reflect. Respond. Reflect. Respond. Reflect. Respond. This is the rhythm of thanks.
Article By: Gabe Hinerman