Thanksgiving is to be a default mode of thinking for Christians. An attitude of gratitude should envelop them in all that they do. Bible admonitions concerning this matter are numerous (2 Corinthians 9:11 and Ephesians 5:20). In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul said, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel like being thankful. It seems that the promptings of my unredeemed nature sometimes beckon me to be negative and selfish. Instead of seeing the glass as being half-full, it is easy to regard it as half-empty. My heart is often prone to be unthankful for the blessings of salvation, the provision of my needs, and the wonderful people in my life — things for which the Bible teaches I should give thanks (2 Corinthians 9:15; Romans 14:6; and Romans 1:8). Society and the stresses of life sometimes beckon us to be ungrateful. How can we change? How can we develop greater degrees of gratitude? Let me share three spiritual realities which can encourage us to be grateful.
Jesus practiced thanksgiving.
On multiple occasions, the gospels record Jesus giving thanks to God. He gave praise when the Lord spiritually worked in the hearts of others (Matthew 11:25), He expressed thanksgiving during times of worship (Matthew 26:27), He returned thanks before eating (John 6:11), and He gave words to His grateful heart when the Lord worked miraculously through His ministry (John 11:41). If Jesus, who was fully God, saw the need to express gratitude, shouldn’t we? Follow the Lord’s example. Humble your heart and get in the habit of giving God the glory for His many blessings in your life.
Heaven is engaged in thanksgiving.
Did you know that the giving of thanks is one of the most predominate activities in heaven? When John got a glimpse of glory, he saw an awesome sight: “All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures, and they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God, saying: Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 7:11-12). When believers die, they are immediately transported to the presence of God (2 Corinthians 5:8). That place, according to John, is characterized by continual thanksgiving (Revelation 4:9 and 11:16-17). If this is true, shouldn’t we make praise an ongoing practice? Since our lives in eternity will be marked by gratitude, shouldn’t our lives on earth be similar? When we get in the habit of giving thanks, we get our hearts prepared for the presence of God.
Thanksgiving is good.
The Psalmist said, “It is good to praise Yahweh, to sing praise to Your name, Most High, to declare Your faithful love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night” (Psalm 92:1-2). Plain and simple, God’s people should give thanks because it is good for them. Grateful hearts are usually glad hearts. When we count our blessings, we are more prone to think on the positive. This inevitably fosters a soul-condition and frame-of-mind which honor God. It also breeds a sanctified spirit which God blesses and uses for His glory.
Dr. Patrick Latham