We keep Thanksgiving Lord’s Day on 3rd week of Nov. This tradition started in United States when the pilgrims landed and had their first harvest. However their thanksgiving is derived biblically when the Israelites came into Canaan and gave their first harvest to the Lord in thanksgiving.
What is God’s grace? God’s grace is leading His people out of the slavery in Egypt and appointing them sonship, calling them His firstborn. They now become the covenanted people of God, and as covenanted people they are to come into a spiritual relationship with Him. In this relationship, there needs to be not only confession by the lips, but there has to be active involvement daily of what we do. Thanksgiving is our expression of love towards God.
Why is God commanding us to give thanks?
1. Because we are God’s people
If you believe in your heart that you are a child of God, God says you must give thanks.
(i) God’s command to His children is to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18)
The understood pronoun is “you” give thanks in everything. God is the only One who deserves our thanks. According to the context of 1 Thessalonians 5, this chapter contains commands exclusively given to those awaiting for the coming of the Lord.
These are the 4 things we should do if we are waiting for the Lord’s return (Psalm 136:2-3): Seek after what is good, rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks.
(ii) Cain vs Abel
They gave their offerings at the same time, but God received Abel and his offering whereas Cain and his offering were rejected. Abel’s offering was received because it was sincere thanksgiving from faith (Hebrews 11:4, 1 John 3:12).
Faith, thanksgiving and offering are related closely together and directly. Faith determines whether you are with God or against God. Thanksgiving is possible only when we have true faith. Only for those who have relationship with God can truly give thanks to God.
There are ten lepers who were cleansed by Jesus. Same sickness and same healing. However 2 differences: The one who returned to Jesus to give thanks was a Samaritan. The other nine were Jews and did not return. Jesus already cleansed them of leprosy but Jesus told this leper who returned that your faith has made you well (Luke 17:17-19).
Thanksgiving is recognized by Jesus as faith and completes the healing process.
Do you need your situation in life to be turned around? Come to the Lord and He will cleanse you and complete that healing.
2. Only through thanksgiving can one give true offering
In this covenanted relationship, the only thing God wants from us is for us is to worship Him and give Him offerings of thanksgiving (Psalm 50:23, Psalm 50:5, Psalm 50:14-15).
But the offering of the wicked, according to the same chapter Psalm 50:16-18, God is offended by them using the word “covenant”. Why did Jesus cursed them out? Because they did not have true thanksgiving in them. Worship needs to be done in Spirit and truth. Because God is Spirit, we need to connect with Him in spirit.
3. Because thanksgiving and praise are the power of victory
A few examples of victory given as a result of thanksgiving and praise:
(i) Victory in the Valley of Beracah (2 Chronicles 20:22, 26)
God said to send out the choir to sing praises of thanksgiving, when they were surrounded by enemies. When they sang praises, God sent hosts of angels to protect them against enemies. The reason why the choir and praise team sang at the beginning of the service is because of this. I believe there will be victory in this service if we sang praises with true thanksgiving. Without true thanksgiving, we will be defeated. I pray that we can all experience that victory through praises of thanksgiving.
(ii) Daniel gave thanks in the impossible circumstance
He did not have any reason to give thanks, things were hard and difficult, he was on the verge of being executed for treason for praying to God.
Daniel 6:10 says he was praying and giving thanks before God. We know the result, God took care of the enemies, God saves Daniel, even the king in the end recognized the power and the glory of Daniel’s God.
(iii) In the New Testament, Apostle Paul too emphasized thanksgiving the most when he qas in suffering and perils (1 Thessalonians 3:8-9).
Apostle Paul from a minister’s perspective, was a great minister for giving thanks to God for his sheep. Looking at Corinthians, Ephesians, these church members caused all kinds of problems. Apostle Paul had to write letters from prison to correct them and he gave thanks to God for them in most of his letters.
Thanksgiving in Greek is eukaritos. It is a combination of 2 words: Eu (eû) means good. Charitos (χάριτος) or (charis) means grace. Eucharistos means good grace.
When we are filled with God’s grace, the natural reaction is giving thanks. That is why Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:10, that it is all by God’s grace for allowing him to do what he did. Let us give thanks to God for restoring to us His good grace. Those with His grace in us, will be able to give thanks that is sincere and true.
In conclusion, God commands us to give thanks because the gates of heaven open up with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is like the key to the gates of heaven (Psalm 100:4, 107:1, 95:2). Thanksgiving is what allows us to come to Him. God will give us the heart of peace, thanksgiving and rejoicing that the world cannot give us. Let us give thanks and receive the blessings. Amen.