What Does it Mean to “Give Thanks”?November 27, 2013
Giving thanks is more than an expression of gratitude. It is that, but truthfully, we can say “thank you” to someone and not really mean it. Gratitude is more than words communicated; it is ultimately a mindset, a mentality. It is a keen awareness of our dependence upon a particular thing or person, and then demonstrating that appreciation through a charitable relationship. Thanksgiving is not really a holiday of indulgence and stuffing, it is a lifestyle that actually sacrifices and succumbs to the reality of grace – God’s grace imparted and enjoyed.
So what does it really mean to give thanks?
1. It Means to Assess. (What Do I Have?)
Thanksgiving is about taking inventory of your life and itemizing the various benefits given by God. Without any hesitation, I declare: we are a blessed people! I challenge you to assess your life over the next few days and consider what you have been given:
The people in your life: your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your parents, your siblings, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your mentors, your students, your pastor and teachers.
The material provisions and possessions: (this is an endless list) your home, your clothes, your food, your bed, your vehicle (probably more than one), your shoes, your toiletries, your books, your jewelry, your tools, your furniture, your pictures, your utensils, your appliances, your water, your pens, your computer, your phone, your carpet, your yard, the list goes on and on and on…
Your personal health: if you have eyes to see, ears to hear, a mouth to speak, legs to walk, and arms to raise you should use them all for the glory and honor of God. The older I get, the more I appreciate my health.
Your local church: praise God for a local congregation where the Bible is preached, worship is experienced, lessons are taught, people are saved, God is glorified, and fellowship is sweet. The church gets a bad rap these days, but I, for one, give thanks to the church of Jesus Christ.
Your spiritual blessings: most of what we have listed are tangible, or at least visible blessings, but they cannot compare to the blessings unseen such as grace, peace, joy, hope, contentment, assurance, eternal security, mercy, and rest.
Imagine: all of this and heaven too!
Giving thanks means assessing your life and recognizing all that you have. As the song suggests, “count your blessings, name them one by one.”
2. It Means to Acknowledge (Where Did I Get It?)
When you say “thank you” you are actually giving someone credit for something they have done for you. For example, when someone opens a door, you say “thank you.” When someone gives you a gift, you say “thank you.” When someone pours you some water, you say, “thank you.”
I have taught my children to say “thank you” every time their mother cooks and prepares a meal. In doing so, they acknowledge the source of their “gift.”
Years ago while purchasing a pair of shoes I said “thank you” to the cashier as she handed me my receipt. As I walked out the department store, the Holy Spirit reminded me that I ultimately “thanked” the wrong person. Every good and perfect gift comes from above. God is the giver of all that we have, and thanksgiving is about recognizing His charity towards us.
3. It Means to Appreciate (How Can I Repay?)
As the word suggests, thanksgiving is not just about “thanks,” it is equally about “giving.” Thanksgiving is about returning our appreciation to the One who abundantly gives daily to our needs, and even our desires.
In Psalm 100, the writer gives light on what we can do to “give thanks” unto the Lord.
1. Be Heard – make a joyful noise unto the Lord
2. Be Happy – serve the Lord with gladness
3. Be Humble – know the Lord has made us, and not we ourselves
4. Be Holy – enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise
5. Behold – the Lord is good, merciful, and longsuffering
Between the turkey, the turnips, and the tea, give some thanks to the One Who made it all possible. And not just through words over a table, but through a life that is pleasing unto the Lord.