In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Beginning around the middle of September, stores started putting out displays for Halloween – candy, costumes, and yard decorations. Not long after that Christmas displays started appearing right alongside the Halloween displays.
My wife likes watching cooking and baking shows on TV. All during this time, the baking competitions were about making Halloween cakes and cookies with “scary” themes. Once Halloween passed, the same shows switched over to Christmas baking competitions.
During all of this time, Thanksgiving Day got little or no attention. It seems to me that the two most self-indulgent holidays received all the glory and the one day dedicated to the idea of giving thanks to God for all His blessings to us went largely ignored.
However, that is to be expected considering the self-centered nature of fallen man. From the beginning, man succumbed to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.
God’s Word teaches that we should redirect our inward focus and turn it to God “from whom all blessings flow” in an attitude of thanksgiving. Indeed, our beginning verse teaches “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
“Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name” (2 Samuel 22:50, Psalm 18:49). This is the first appearance of the phrase “give thanks” in the Bible. King David had just won victory over all of Israel’s enemies, including his own son Absalom. This passages is found in 2 Samuel 22, which is one entire psalm. In it, David focuses on his dependance on God. Never is his focus inward or in his own accomplishments, but rather, he gives all the glory to God because of all that God had done, “Therefore” David gives thanks to the Lord. Not only does he give thanks to God personally, but he will give his thanks “among the heathen.” He does not keep his gratitude to God as a “private” matter, but he will let the world know the greatness God.
“Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 30:4). God’s greatest attribute is His holiness. “Holiness” means to be “set apart.” God is far above and beyond us. In theological terms, God is wholly “other.” In other words, God is unlike anything we can know or understand. Yet, we are created in His image. And He has made Himself known to us through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we can know God. When we remember this, we can give thanks that Holy God cares enough about us to send His Son to save us from our sins
“Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare” (Psalm 75:1). The psalmist twice repeats the phrase “we give thanks” to emphasis the importance of giving thanks. Why? Because His name is near, i.e., He is near to us. “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…” (James 4:8) How can we know? His “wonderous works declare” it. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). We live in a cursed world, and even so, it is a beautiful creation. When we consider all that God has created, we can be thankful for all that He has made.
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Note the obligation: “We are bound … always.” We should give thanks to God for our brothers and sisters in Christ, “beloved of God.” We share a common bond. We are “beloved of the Lord, chosen to salvation, sanctified by the Holy Spirit,” and we share the “belief of “the truth.”
It is God’s desire that we have a heart of gratitude and be thankful for the blessings He bestows on us, but He does not “demand” it of us. “And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. (Leviticus 22:29). The psalmist says, “That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works” (Psalm 26:7). “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High” (Psalm 50:14). “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2). “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). And the Apostle Paul writes, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
Christmas is coming. The TV and internet commercials, store displays, and all forms of attention getters have been reminding us since before Halloween. Maybe we should take time and offer Thanksgiving to God for His gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Entering the Christmas season with a heart of thanksgiving will give us the right perspective.