In evaluating Thanksgiving and what it really means, the first question we should ask ourselves is, “Am I a thanks-giver or am I a thanks-taker?” What one immediately thinks of when they think about God will answer that question.
Jesus is our example of a thanks-giver. When Jesus fed 5,000 people, He said a blessing before He gave the people the bread and fish (Matthew 14:19 NIV says, “And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves…”). Again, when He fed 4,000 people, He gave thanks before He gave them the bread (Matthew 15:36). When He shared His Last Supper with His apostles, He took the bread and gave thanks, and He took the cup and gave thanks (Luke 22:17–19.
Not a One-Time Event
Giving thanks was not a one-time event with Jesus that only occurred on one day. Every time at every meal, the grain offering was given in gratitude for what God was providing. Jesus gave thanks on all occasions, and this is the model we should follow.
Give Thanks In, not For
One note about thanks-giving. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 in the NIV says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Notice that the scripture says “give thanks in all circumstances”… it does NOT say “give thanks FOR all circumstances.” There are a lot of things that we do not want to give thanks FOR. What this verse is saying is that as believers we recognize God works in all circumstances for those who love him – Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Author George Whitefield once said, “Take care of your life, and the Lord will take care of your death.” The way to take care of our live is, by thanks-giving. Thanking the Father for His son who died for us, so that we have the opportunity to live for eternity in heaven.
In the last book of the Bible, we see that Thanksgiving is an aspect of heavenly worship.“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever…” (Revelation 4:9-10 NIV).
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Pastor John Haggard