One of my favorite Thanksgiving songs is “Give Thanks!’ In that chorus, there is a phrase that says, “…and now let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us.” Every time I sing that, it gets to me. Why? I remember being in worship with a group of Filipino pastors and wives in Manila. They sang that song from their hearts, with hands lifted up, smiling, and even crying those words of praise, “Give thanks!” Yet, in terms of material stuff, they had so little. Most of them made about $10 a month. Their families cooked on an open fire. They didn’t even own a fridge. Yet, they were truly thankful for all that God had done for them! Even though they were poor, they rejoiced in their riches in Christ. That’s real thanks!
Too often our “thanks” is a courteous or obligatory response. Even in our prayers, it may be routine. Paul wrote about “real thanks” to the Christians in Thessalonica, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). Here we find what real thanksgiving is all about. This verse has been broken down in this way:
Real thanks is to be EXPRESSED!
“Give thanks!” This is not just a good suggestion, it’s a command. Moreover, when we are truly thankful, we can’t help but express it. This Thanksgiving, take time to be thankful. Thank God for all that he has done in your life and then thank others, too. One tradition that we are part of is to take turns around the table and thank God for one thing before we eat our Thanksgiving meal. I like that.
Real thanks is to be EXTENDED!
Give thanks “in all circumstances.” Real thanks happens everywhere and in everything! Now, it doesn’t say to give thanks “for” all circumstances. I don’t think we are to be thankful for bad or sinful things. However, no matter what is going on in our lives, we can be thankful. Anyone can be thankful when things are great! Real thanks trusts God even when things are tough, knowing he’ll ultimately make it right (Romans 8:28).
Real thanks is to be EXPECTED!
We are to give thanks in everything because “this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus!” Real thanks should be expected! After all, it’s God’s will for us. The Bible says God is pleased every time we give thanks. The Palmist said “…I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs” (Psalm 69:29-31).
BEFORE YOU GO…
A final note. Thankful people are joyful people. Someone said that grumbling is the accent of hell and gratitude is the accent of heaven. Even doctors tell us that being thankful can increase our immunity and decrease our stress level. Interestingly, the Greek root word for thanksgiving is charis meaning “grace.” It is also related to the word chara which means “joy.” Real thanks is a Christian grace which leads to joy. 🙂
So, let’s start giving real thanks this Thanksgiving!