Introduction On The Importance Of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving, in its essence, is more than a single day dedicated to turkey dinners and parades. It’s a flame of gratitude that illuminates our lives, a fire fueled by recognizing the countless blessings around us. While the holiday originates from historical events, its true significance rests upon a timeless principle deeply woven into the fabric of scripture: the unwavering call for thankfulness.
What Is Thanksgiving?
From the very beginning, the Bible paints a picture of a God who seeks our gratitude. In Psalm 107:1, we are instructed to “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever.” Gratitude isn’t a mere suggestion; it’s a vital thread woven into the tapestry of faith. It’s an acknowledgment of God’s presence in every facet of our lives, even in the midst of struggle.
Take King David, a man who knew both triumph and tribulation. In Psalm 30:4-5, he declares, “Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of his; give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, his favor is for a lifetime; weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” David understood that even in the darkest hour, joy awaits. He chose to focus on the unwavering light of God’s favor, his gratitude echoing through the valley of tears.
This spirit of thanksgiving isn’t just about recognizing the grand gestures of God’s grace. It’s also about appreciating the everyday blessings, the seemingly mundane that sustains us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul urges, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Every breath, every sunrise, every act of kindness—these are all gifts to be cherished. Cultivating a heart of gratitude for the ordinary allows us to find joy in the simple things, enriching our lives in ways grand celebrations never could.
Furthermore, thanksgiving isn’t a solitary act; it’s a bridge that connects us to one another. In Colossians 3:15-17, we read, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Celebrating Thanksgiving together strengthens our bonds, building a community where joy is shared and burdens are lightened.
Therefore, let us not relegate thanksgiving to a single day, but fan its flame into a constant fire that illuminates our lives. Let us, like David, sing in the face of hardship, appreciating the fleeting anger and the enduring favor of God. Let us thank Him for every breath, every smile, every act of kindness, not forgetting the power of shared gratitude that draws us closer to one another. When we choose to see the world through the lens of thanksgiving, we discover a hidden abundance, a joy that transcends circumstance, and a life overflowing with the richness of God’s presence.
Remember, the flame of gratitude never truly dies. It awaits to be rekindled, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of the year. Let us, in the spirit of the psalmist, declare with conviction, “I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will sing praise to his name in the great assembly of the righteous” (Psalm 111:1).
Benefits Of Thanksgiving
1. God Sees You As A Grateful Person: Nobody likes an ingrate – an ungrateful person – not even Jesus. In the story of the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17, only one of them, a Samaritan, came back to acknowledge the manifestation of his healing as he was going to show himself to the priests. Jesus asked for the whereabouts of the rest. “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17-18 New King James Version). The Samaritan returned to thank his healer. Jesus’ reaction shows that He hates ingratitude.
When you demonstrate a positive attitude of thanksgiving, God will take note of you as Jesus took note of that Samaritan who came back to give glory to God for his healing.
2. It Gives You Access To God’s Presence: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5). Nobody can legally enter a fenced property except the gates are opened, or enter a house legally until the doors are opened. Thanksgiving opens His gates; praises usher you into His courts. And until you enter into His presence, there’s no audience, and if there’s no audience, there can’t be answers to requests.
3. You Please God:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. Thanksgiving is the will of God, and when you give Him thanks, you please Him. Grumbling is not God’s will; thanksgiving is God’s will. When you give thanks to God, He’s pleased with you. That’s why Jesus commended the only leper, who came to acknowledge his healing; and obviously to show appreciation. If one is pleased with someone, one can go to any extent to express it. Imagine what you’ll benefit from God if He’s pleased with you!
4. God Is Magnified:
Magnified in this context means glorified. Thanksgiving enables you to magnify or glorify the Lord. Psalm 69:30 says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving”. When you’re giving thanks to God, you’re magnifying Him; you’re glorifying Him. David understood this and didn’t want to magnify the LORD alone. So he declared, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3).
The song of praise that Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, sang following the prophetic greeting by her cousin, Elizabeth, is called the Magnificat. Mary began that song by declaring, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:46). When you magnify the Lord, He magnifies Himself in your life. You cannot glorify God and live in shame. You’ll surely be a partaker of His glory.
5. It Brings Balance To Your Spiritual Life, Especially Your Prayer Life:
Imagine a prayer or spiritual life without thanksgiving! It will be a selfish exercise; it will be just life about asking and receiving without appreciating God, the giver of all things. That means we’ll just show up before Him, collect all we need, and just disappear only to reappear, collect and disappear – and the cycle continues. We shall all be a bunch of ingrates. That will amount to irresponsibility! Is that what you do? Are you selfish in prayer or in your walk with God? How much thanksgiving do you engage in daily?
Thank God for thanksgiving! Thanksgiving ensures that we’re not selfish, telling God, “Give me, give me.” Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart” (New Living Translation). Do you have a thankful heart? Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.
Jesus’ life was full of thanksgiving. He showed us examples of praying with thanksgiving. John 6:11 says, “And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples…”. That was when he fed about 5,000 men with five barley loaves and two small fish and twelve baskets of fragments were gathered.
He also did the same when he fed four thousand with seven loaves of bread and seven baskets full of fragments were gathered (Matthew 15:32-38). Before calling Lazarus out of the tomb, He started by saying, “Father, thank you for hearing me” (John 11:41b).
Thanksgiving positively impacts the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of people. If such a positive attitude is extended to a relationship with God, it is bound to engender a better and higher health impact. As God accepts our thanksgiving, we can believe Him to heal us physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
But Why Is Thanksgiving So Important?
Here are three key reasons, each resonating with biblical wisdom:
1. Thanksgiving Cultivates A Grateful Heart:
In a world obsessed with “having more,” Thanksgiving reminds us to cherish what we already have. It shifts our focus from the insatiable desire for what’s missing to the overflowing abundance of blessings already present. As the Proverbs remind us, “Whoever is content with what they have is rich indeed” (Proverbs 13:10). When we cultivate a grateful heart, we cultivate joy, peace, and contentment, qualities the Bible promises to those who trust in God (Philippians 4:6-7).
2. Thanksgiving Strengthens Our Relationship With God:
Gratitude is not simply a feeling; it’s an act of worship. When we express thanks to God, we acknowledge his goodness and sovereignty in our lives. This act of recognition deepens our connection with him, drawing us closer to the source of our blessings. As the Psalmist sings, “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with loud songs of praise” (Psalm 95:2).
3. Thanksgiving Fosters A Spirit Of Generosity:
A grateful heart naturally overflows with a desire to share its blessings. This generosity, whether expressed through acts of service, words of encouragement, or material gifts, reflects the love of God who showers his grace upon us freely (Ephesians 2:8). As Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).
Thanksgiving is not just a tradition; it’s a transformative practice. By cultivating a grateful heart, strengthening our relationship with God, and fostering a spirit of generosity, we can experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from living a life of thanksgiving. So, let us, like the Psalmist, “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4), and discover the enduring importance of this timeless practice.
Biblical Story On Thanksgiving
1. King David: 1 Chronicles 15-16
Centuries before King David reigned over Israel, God set the descendants of Abraham apart from others to have a unique relationship with Him. After bringing them out of bondage in Egypt, He had them build the Ark of the Covenant in which they placed the ten commandments, some manna, and the staff of Aaron, the first high priest. It was where God’s Spirit would settle in the tabernacle when He came to be with His people.
For centuries, it did not have a permanent home, and the Philistines even stole it on one occasion as a spoil of war. After much turbulence, David was able to make Jerusalem a stable place. He had the priests and Levites consecrate themselves and bring the Ark into a great tent David made for it, and celebrated the ark returning to its rightful place in the midst of the people.
Because of the blessing of having the Ark restored to the people, and finally having it settled in the capital, the people thanked the Lord, greatly rejoicing.
“And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams” (1 Chronicles 15:26).
“So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres” (1 Chronicles 15:28).
“Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asapah and his brothers” (1 Chronicles 16:7).
“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! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!” (1 Chronicles 16:8-10).
2. King Solomon: 2 Chronicles 7
God’s people had been carrying around the Ark of the Covenant, keeping it in temporary tabernacles and tents. David had wanted to build a permanent temple to God, but – in part because of his adultery with Bathsheba – God did not allow him to do so.
His son, King Solomon was blessed with wisdom and wealth, and he got to build the first temple in Jerusalem. When the building was complete, Solomon dedicated the temple to God’s glory. He also thanked God for blessing the people, and for being with them. During Solomon’s reign, there was great prosperity, with many nations coming to Israel to marvel, so the dedication to the temple can be seen as the culmination of Israel’s success because of God’s blessings during the reigns of David and Solomon.
“As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (2 Chronicles 7:1).
“When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever’” (2 Chronicles 7:3).
“On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the prosperity that the Lord had granted to David and to Solomon and to Israel his people” (2 Chronicles 7:10).
3. King Manasseh: 2 Chronicles 33
The Circumstances: Israel would go through highs and lows during the centuries recorded in the Old Testament, drifting closer to the Lord at certain times, and away from Him at others. Often, it related to their leadership; when they had a righteous king, they obeyed the law, but when the king engaged in wickedness, so went the people.
Manasseh reigned fifty-five years, but for the first half of his reign, he disobeyed God and participated in pagan practices. He built altars, used sorcery, worked with necromancers, and even burned his own sons. The Lord allowed Assyria to capture Manasseh. Bound in chains, he finally humbled himself and asked God to forgive him and restore Jerusalem. God forgave Manasseh of his many sins and helped restore him. In response, Manasseh restored worship of the living God to Israel.
“And when [Manasseh] was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).
“He also restored the altar of the Lord and offered on it sacrifices of peace offerings and of thanksgiving, and he commanded Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:16).
4. Story Of Nehemiah: Nehemiah 12
The Book of Nehemiah is full of people rising to the occasion to serve the Lord. It takes places after the exile, when God allowed the Babylonians to capture the Israelites for a time. It is partnered with the book of Ezra, which covers the restoration of Jerusalem, while Nehemiah is about the restoration of the walls of the city and the temple.
Nehemiah served in the palace of a Persian king, as the Persians had overthrown the Babylonians. During this period, some people returned to Jerusalem and were trying to restore the city, but were having difficulties. Nehemiah asked to go back and restore the walls, and received support to do so. After a lot of work, they rebuilt the walls to the city. This milestone brought on great celebrations, with all the credit going to the Lord.
“And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres” (Nehemiah 12:27).
“And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (Nehemiah 12:43).
“And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon” (Nehemiah 12:44).
5. Daniel In The Lion’s Den: Daniel 6
Not every powerful moment of thanksgiving is a big moment celebrating a massive blessing or change, but sometimes the context in which someone gives thanks is what matters.
Daniel lived as a captive in Babylon, serving King Darius. Despite his captivity, he faithfully loved and obeyed God. Many of the king’s counsellors were jealous of Daniel, and plotted to have him killed. They had King Darius pass a law that anyone who prayed or ask a favor of anyone other than the king for thirty days would be thrown in a den of lions, and Darius signed it. Despite the threat of death, Daniel prayed and gave thanks to God, knowing it would cost him his life. Though God saved Daniel from the lions, that act of daily thanksgiving could have cost Daniel everything.
“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10).
“Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!’” (Daniel 6:16).
“The King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: ‘Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that all in my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions’” (Daniel 6:25-27).
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6. Jesus And His Disciples Observed Passover: Matthew 26
Jesus Christ came to die for the sins of mankind, but He also came to set an example for those who would live after He returned to the Father. These disciples would go forth to spread the Gospel until His return. On the night of His arrest, Jesus and the apostles observed Passover, eating the traditional meal in an upper room. When the Hebrews spread the blood of the lamb over their door thousands of years earlier so the Angel of Death would pass over their house, they were acting out how the blood of Jesus would cover the sins of the world.
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Jesus deepened the significance of Passover by instituting the Lord’s Supper. Before He broke the bread and drank from His cup, the Bible records that He gave thanks. Even knowing that He was about to suffer greatly, He gave thanks to God
“He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples’” (Matthew 26:18).
“And as they were eating, he said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me’” (Matthew 26:21).
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took the bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.; And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28).
Giving thanks to God is such an important part of having a relationship with Him. Sometimes it can seem difficult, but looking at passages like these in the Bible can reveal how much there is for which we can give thanks to the Lord.
The practice of thanksgiving reminds us of our shared humanity, our interconnectedness with all creation, and the enduring presence of God in our midst. By embracing the spirit of gratitude, we not only enrich our own lives but also contribute to a more hopeful and joyful world.
So, let us take to heart the words of the psalmist in Psalm 107:1, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” May our lives be a tapestry woven with threads of gratitude, a constant testament to the blessings we receive and the God who bestows them.