We all know we should give thanks. But how many understand why?
Many people think they know what gratitude is and why it is important.
To many, gratitude is simply the display of thanks. Giving thanks is important because it’s an act of service, a way of making others feel special, needed, and loved. As children, we’re taught that showing gratitude is part of being polite, well-mannered, and vital if we are to be well-liked and have strong friendships. This is all true.
But there is another deeper, more vital dimension to giving thanks.
The Bible overflows with instruction to bestow gratitude especially on God. In Psalms 100, we’re instructed to “Enter into [God’s] gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (verse 4). To the congregation in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul wrote, “In EVERY THING give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Have you ever thought about why God commands Christians to show Him praise and gratitude?
Does God need our thanks and praise to feel important, or powerful, or to give His existence purpose or meaning? Of course not. God doesn’t command gratitude for self-affirmation or self-aggrandizement. He doesn’t need thanks from you or me to experience happiness or contentment, or to be impelled to give more. Does God love it when we give Him thanks and praise; does it bring Him terrific joy? Absolutely! But He doesn’t need gratitude from us to function.
So why does He fill Scripture with instruction to display praise and thankfulness?
It’s simple: The command to show gratitude is a gift, an opportunity, a blessing, from God to us.
That may sound bizarre. We think that when we express thanks or give praise, be it to another person or to God, we are the ones committing an act of service. We think this way because we are vain and selfish (Jeremiah 17:9). Truth is, when gratitude is displayed the way God intended thoughtfully and sincerely; it serves the person displaying it more than the person receiving it.
Being grateful requires humility. It requires seeing our own frailties and shortcomings, and realizing that we need help. Being grateful requires that we be selfless, and, even if only for a moment, that we hop off the pedestal and set someone else on it. Godly gratitude and vanity cannot coexist at the same moment.
This is why God’s instruction to always give thanks is such an enormous gift: It provides us the opportunity to develop humility and contrition, to learn to be selfless!
There is a reason God loves humility and contrition, and commands that we display gratitude so that we might develop these qualities. Notice Isaiah 66:2.
“TO THIS MAN WILL I LOOK, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
God wants a relationship with every human (John 3:16). The Bible teaches that God has a time order by which He plans to introduce Himself to every human who has ever lived. But no matter when that moment comes, each human will have to fulfill certain conditions before he or she can have a relationship with God. One condition is that a person be humble, contrite and repentant (Acts 3:19).
God commands gratitude because displaying Godly gratitude develops humility and contrition, two qualities of character we must possess if God is to fulfill His will and come work in our lives!
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln saw that many citizens had become so wrapped up in partaking of America’s unprecedented “bounties,” that they had begun to “forget the source” from which these bounties had sprung. The president was so concerned by this spirit of vanity and selfishness, he issued his now-famous Thanksgiving proclamation.
After recounting some of the tremendous blessings that had been bestowed upon America, President Lincoln told his people: “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. THEY ARE THE GRACIOUS GIFTS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
Lincoln’s abiding spirit of gratitude equipped him with the humility, the moral, and spiritual clarity to see the source of America’s manifold blessings!
Lincoln continued: “It has seemed to me fit and proper that [these blessings] should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE TO OUR BENEFICENT FATHER WHO DWELLETH IN THE HEAVENS.”
It is one of the most moving and important statements Abraham Lincoln ever wrote. Implicit within the document that established Thanksgiving as a national holiday is the recognition by Lincoln that America’s wealth and prosperity derived from a “BENEFICENT FATHER WHO DWELLETH IN THE HEAVENS.”
But remember what it was that enabled President Lincoln to see God’s presence in America’s success. It was his spirit of gratitude—which he sought to institutionalize and immortalize in the American people by declaring this a national day of Thanksgiving.
The world might not ever be thankful during this current age of man and our country might only observe thanksgiving one day a year to be reminded of giving gratitude or perhaps allow it to slowly become a license to be un thankful the remaining days of the year. But you have the opportunity to be thankful and give gratitude all the days of your life with Spiritual Wisdom that provides a sound mind.
In case you’ve read it all and made it this far I just wanted to say I’m thankful and grateful for your Blessed Friendship (: 💜❤️