Make Thanksgiving a Vital Part of Your Daily Christian Life
“Thanksgiving”—it’s an expression very familiar to many believers. But does our understanding of it match the revelation found in God’s word?
Also, how does thanksgiving apply to our Christian life? To some, “thanksgiving” may be mainly associated with a yearly feast. To others, it may be related to the practice of giving thanks before a meal. But is that all?
I hope that by reading this post your appreciation for “thanksgiving” will be elevated, making the “giving of thanks” a fundamental part of your daily Christian life.
Why should we practice a life of thanksgiving?
First, thanksgiving ushers us into the presence of the Lord. As Psalm 100:4 says,
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, / His courts with praise; / Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
We need to “enter our Lord’s gates with thanksgiving” starting first thing each morning. It’s good to begin each day by giving thanks.
Second, thanksgiving is a practical way for us to be filled in our spirit with Christ. From my own experience I can testify that giving thanks to the Lord causes me to be filled with Him. Ephesians 5:18-20 tells us to,
“Be filled in spirit…giving thanks…”
Third, genuine thanksgiving and praise to God preserves us from every evil thing. Thanking God is also the best way to save us from our ugly disposition. So it is very helpful to teach children to thank God for all that they have from their earliest age.
Hence, we need to heed the warning of Romans 1:21,
“Because though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or thank Him, but rather became vain in their reasonings, and their heart, lacking understanding, was darkened.”
If we neglect thanksgiving to God, we can easily become vain in our reasoning and become darkened in our understanding.
Finally, giving thanks in everything–along with rejoicing always and praying unceasingly–is God’s will for us. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says,
Always rejoice, unceasingly pray, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
A footnote on this verse in the Recovery Version study Bible points out that living such a rejoicing, praying and thanking life is a glory to God and a shame to His enemy.
To Whom should we give thanks?
The focus of our giving thanks is not the things themselves but God Himself, as the source of life and all things.
God is the One Who made the world and all things in it (Acts 17:23) and the One who “gives to all life and breath and all things” (v. 25).
All human beings should thank God for their very existence in His creation, for their life, the air that they breathe and the beginning of every new day.
But more than this, as believers, we need to thank God as “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:3 says,
“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus…”
Thanking “the Father of our Lord Jesus” is a much higher thanksgiving because it recognizes God as the source of the divine life in us.
To thank God as the Father is an expression of our deeper appreciation for all the spiritual blessings we’ve received from Him, all the blessings given to us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3).
For example, while in prison, Paul thanked the Father for qualifying the believers for a share of the allotted portion of the saints in the light—for giving them Christ as their spiritual inheritance (Col. 1:12).
Every day, we should thank our God and Father for both—for giving us our physical life and breath and for giving us Christ as our portion, as the life-giving Spirit that dwells in our spirit through His regeneration.
When should we give thanks?
We should follow Paul’s word of exhortation by
“Giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father” (Eph. 5:20).
Thanksgiving isn’t just something we do once a year or even before eating a meal. Giving thanks is something that we should practice at all times.
The apostle Paul is an excellent example of such thanksgiving. Much of his mention of it (especially in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians) was done during his Roman imprisonment. He was in bonds, yet he opened his epistles with blessings and thanksgiving.
Paul’s practice of giving thanks surely elevated him above the abasement of his imprisonment into the realm of spiritual blessings.
For what should we give thanks?
We should surely thank God for our life, health, family and friends. But giving thanks is not only to thank the Lord for our material blessings.
For many today material blessings are not that plentiful. But does that mean we should withhold our thanks to God?
According to Ephesians 5:20, we should thank the Lord for all things. We should thank God not only at good times for good things, but at all times for all things. Even at bad times, we can thank God the Father for bad things (Eph. 5:20, note 1).
The greater part of our thanks to God, if measured by that expressed in the New Testament, should be for the spiritual blessings to us in God’s plan or economy. We should thank Him for:
- Predestinating us unto sonship (Eph. 1:4)
- Redeeming us in Christ (v. 7)
- Calling us through His grace (Gal. 1:15)
- Regenerating us through His living and abiding word (1 Pet. 1:23)
- Revealing His Son in us (Gal. 1:16)
- Causing all things in our life to work together for the good of His eternal purpose (Rom. 8:28)
- And much more
Let’s take a moment to give thanks,
“Dear Father, thank you for all the blessings that we have received from You. Thank you for giving us our life, breath and all things. Even more, thank you for making Yourself real to us—for revealing Yourself and Your purpose to us through Your holy word. Thank you for giving us a human spirit to contact You and receive You and a heart to love You and enjoy You, for choosing us and calling us, for redeeming us and forgiving us of our sins. Thank you for regenerating us with Your divine life and for sealing us with the Holy Spirit and making us your children, and the members of the Body of Christ, the church.”
If you’ve been helped by this post to have a deeper appreciation for thanksgiving, please share your appreciation in a brief comment.
About Tom Smith
Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!