“An acknowledging and confessing with gladness, the benefits and mercies, which God bestows either upon ourselves or others”.
The theme of thanksgiving runs right through the Bible. In Nehemiah’s day, at the dedication of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, two companies were appointed whose sole task was to thank and praise the Lord. When the Ark of the Lord was brought back from Obed-edom, Levites were appointed by David to thank the Lord continually after the Ark had been put into the tent. David’s Psalms were full of thanksgiving, for instance, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name” (Psa. 100:4).
The life of Christ was one of thanksgiving. Surely that life is an example to us. He even gave thanks for the bread and wine, a symbol of His broken body and His blood shed.
Paul, in Colossians 3:15 exhorts, “Be ye thankful,” and in Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always for all things.” His epistles are full of instances of thanksgiving and he exhorts the Christians to make their requests known to God with thanksgiving.
The Christian knowing what he has been saved from and saved unto, should certainly be characterized by a spirit of thankfulness. It pays in every way to be a Christian, even in this life, and for this we should be thankful.
After unbelief, unthankfulness is possibly the greatest sin. We read in Romans 1 concerning the heathen, “Neither were they thankful.” Therefore they were blinded and God gave them up to their own uncleanness and lusts. Paul, in writing Timothy, includes the unthankful with blasphemers and unholy. Yet, in spite of this, the Bible says: “He is kind unto the unthankful.” He makes His sun to shine on the righteous and unrighteous and He makes His rain fall upon the just and unjust. It is therefore the goodness of God that leads to repentance.
We live in an unthankful age which takes everything for granted. We do not appreciate what God has given us till He takes it away. The writer, for many years, was a close friend of a cripple who was bedridden for over thirty years. This brother in the Lord often mentioned that health is only fully appreciated after it is lost.
The story is told of the little boy from the country who went to visit his cousins in the city. He was a Christian, but his city cousins had no thought of God. When they sat down to eat, the little boy quietly gave thanks to the Lord for the food. His sophisticated uncle laughed at him and said they didn’t do that at their house. The little country boy replied: “Well, that’s just like my dog, he starts right in too.”
Not only should we give God thanks daily for food, shelter and clothing, the necessities of life, but we should also thank Him for health and strength and sound minds. Most of all, however, we should thank Him for the gift of His Son and all spiritual blessings which we have in Him. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift! We might all test our hearts and ask ourselves when we truly thanked the Lord for all our blessings.
Thankfulness has an effect on others. Pepita, the little Gypsy girl, after she was converted was so thankful that just before she died, she called the artist for whom she had been posing and told him of her salvation. The artist, who at the time had been painting a picture of Christ, was converted through the words of Pepita. His painting of Christ being crucified had such an effect on Count Zinzendorf that he, too, came to Christ. He founded the Moravian Brethren and through the efforts of the Moravian Brethren John Wesley was converted. Through the preaching of Wesley the English-speaking world was changed and the whole course of history was altered. All of this because of the thankfulness of one little girl.
Are you and I thankful?