Thanksgiving and Gratitude to God
And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 1 Corinthians 4:15
Why is it that we often think thankful thoughts, but don’t express them with words? Are we afraid of looking foolish or weak? Are we too preoccupied with our own agenda to take the time to offer a word of encouragement? Are we concerned that giving too much praise to someone might inflate their pride?
I remember one Sunday morning, early on in my ministry, when a woman came up to me to tell me how my sermon had impacted her. “But I didn’t want to tell you,” she confided, “I’m leery of comments like that going to a vicar’s head.” If only she knew how much more freely people seem to speak critical words. Encouraging, thankful words can bring life and refreshment to a weary soul.
The Bible also exhorts us to give verbal thanksgiving to God. Hebrews 13:15 tells us, “Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” Continually offering up praise to God means we must be continually looking for evidences of his grace in our lives. We can thank him that we didn’t cry over the spilled milk at breakfast, or for the sunshine after a bleak winter day. Our private prayers and our public acts of praise will turn our hearts heavenward as we count our blessings and give thanks to the one true God.
Psalm 105 exhorts us to not only give thanks to God, but proclaim to others the mighty works he has done.
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! (Psalm 105:1–2)
A central aspect of bringing up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) is simply to share with them our gratitude for the goodness and faithfulness of God in our lives. As we verbally pour out our admiration and gratitude of our great God, our children will catch a vision of the magnificent Lord we are worshipping. Our enthusiasm and love for Jesus will be evident through our words.
We all could stand to grow in recognising all the reasons we have to be thankful — they are all around us. But simply becoming more grateful in our hearts is just the beginning. If gratefulness rises up in our hearts, but never spills out of our mouths, we are only experiencing the beginnings of joy. Gratitude is only fully enjoyed when we share it with others. As C.S. Lewis said, “We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”
The Apostle Paul was a man who had learned the meaning of true thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity. Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-2)
The more you see God’s faithfulness in your life, your family, your spiritual growth, the more confidently you will rest in that faithfulness in the future. Your mum who sacrificially gives her time and resources to your family. Your vicar who diligently prepares and preaches the word every week. Tell others in your life what you appreciate about them and why. It will bring fresh wind to their souls and spur them on to keep serving (Hebrews 10:24–25).
Psalm 145 tells us to commend our works to the next generation. Sharing how God answered a prayer, provided a necessary resource, or replaced your sorrow with joy will encourage others to find their hope and satisfaction in God. Gratitude can be as contagious as complaining. Work to cultivate the right climate in your home or workplace.
Thanksgiving—the giving of thanks—to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Jesus Christ. We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our heart and chill our relationship with God and with others.
Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.
When we express heartfelt thankfulness for God’s innumerable blessings, we powerfully display a sense of satisfaction in him. This kind of joy is contagious, drawing others into its thankfulness and happiness. When others see a genuine delight in God and in whatever he has provided, they are winsomely invited into the intense and lasting pleasure we have in him.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 calls us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Some of us may feel we have little to be thankful for, but that’s no reason to stop thanking God. Practising thankfulness when we have little often brings the greatest joy, because it reminds us of the infinite riches we do have, regardless of our circumstances. If you start looking for every evidence, large or small, of God’s grace at work in your life, you’ll quickly run out of time to thank him for being so good to you.
Giving thanks to God not only highlights his ability to provide, but also underscores his unrivalled generosity (Matthew 7:7–11). Our words should build up, give life, and invite the world to come and enjoy God’s blessings with us.
Our words of praise and thanksgiving have the power to lift wounded souls and point our hearts afresh to God. Speak your words of thanks and let God transform your life and soul.
Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Psalm 105:1