“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalms 100:4
We are coming to a time of year where we set apart a day to be thankful. This is a good thing, but if there is only one day of the year that we are thankful, that is not a good thing. We should be thankful every single day.
Romans 1:21 tells us that man is inherently unthankful. It is not in our nature to be thankful. This is easily noticed by paying attention to the way people behave every day. There is a general attitude of being deserving of something or being “owed” something. That is the opposite of gratitude.
For many of us, we may have been taught to say “please” and “thank you,” and maybe we have followed that just because we know it is polite. However, is it true gratitude or are we just saying the words.
True gratitude comes from a true understanding of who God is and who we are, and recognizing that we do not deserve any of what we have received from God. This attitude will permeate our entire life and real gratitude will then be expressed at every situation.
Thankfulness, then, will need to start with our attitude toward God. If we do not have an understanding of how thankful we should be to God, we will never be able to truly be thankful to other people.
“A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:” Psalms 92:1.
We learn that giving thanks to God is a good thing. Some might ask, “Why does God need our thanksgiving if He is eternal and transcendent?” It is not that God “needs” our gratitude, but that giving thanks to God is actually good for us. Everything that God desires from us is actually for our own good.
Another thing that we learn from Scripture is that giving thanks might not always be easy. Consider Daniel 6:10 where Daniel prayed and gave thanks as usual even thought it might cost him his life. What did he even have to be thankful for? He was a captive in a foreign land. And yet, we see him giving thanks every single day.
It might not always appear that we have something to be thankful for, but that did not stop Daniel, and it should not stop us. God is good all the time. I saw a sign that said, “God has never stopped being good, we just stopped being grateful.” Something to consider.
My pastor, Jack Davis, always would speak about an “attitude of gratitude,” and that always reminds me that gratitude is an attitude. Attitude results from what is in the heart. What is in our heart depends on what we have allowed the Holy Spirit to do. If we feed off of the world, we will have the same attitudes of the world. However, if we feed on God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will work godly attitudes in our hearts.
In the gospels, we find Jesus giving thanks. In Matthew 15:36, He gives thanks before feeding the multitude. Thankful for a few loaves and fishes. Jesus, the Creator of all things gives us an example of gratitude. He didn’t need to give thanks, He was about to feed a multitude with a miracle.
In Matthew 26:27, we find Jesus giving thanks for the cup that would represent His blood shed on the cross. I often think about how Jesus did things that might not make sense for the Son of God, the Creator, to do, and yet they are there for our instruction.
Paul reminds us, in Philippians 2:5-8, to let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself unto the death of the cross. This also applies as it concerns Jesus example of gratitude.
Another thing that we find concerning gratitude in Scripture is the importance of showing our gratitude and expressing it to others. Both our gratitude towards God, and our gratitude to others.
“Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” Psalms 18:49 “I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.” Psalms 35:18. Expressing our thankfulness both to unbelievers as well as other believers. True gratitude is both expressed and shown by our lives so others can know.
Every part of our lives should be characterized by gratitude. In the good times and in the bad times, we have reason to be grateful. God is at work in all things in our lives, Romans 8:28. We are told to give thanks in everything. “In every thing give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
It will not always be easy to give thanks, and maybe for that reason it is referred to as a sacrifice. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Hebrews 13:15. However, it tells us to offer this thanksgiving continually, not just when we feel like it.
There is so much more in Scripture about thanksgiving. The word is “thanks” “giving”. Giving thanks. Not receiving thanks (what we often prefer), but giving thanks. Saying and showing our gratitude with our mouth and our life. First towards God and then towards other people. How often do we fail to show gratitude to the people around us.
Remember that it is an attitude of gratitude, and let it be a part of everything you do and say. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17.