The Bible is a beautiful tapestry, with many threads woven through it, one of those threads being our need to understand how praise leads us to thankfulness and the Christian life.
“Only in acts of worship and praise can a person learn to believe in the goodness and the greatness of God. God wants us to praise Him, not because He needs or craves, in any sense, our flattery. But because He knows that praise creates joy and thankfulness.” CS Lewis
So, our praise expressed leads us to experience His joy and arouses our thankfulness for all He is doing. He created everything and has a plan that culminates with our becoming members of His eternal family. There is nothing in this life that compares and no one more worthy of our praise and thankfulness. We are His children, and His desire is for us to freely choose to become part of His eternal family.
Merriam-Webster defines “thankful” as: “1) conscious of benefit received 2) expressive of thanks.” So, thankfulness is not only a conscious acknowledgment of a benefit received, but it is one of appreciation. We could just acknowledge the receipt of a benefit without expressing gratefulness, and we have all experienced an ungrateful response for some benefit we have provided. Let’s take a look at what God tells us about our thankfulness:
There is no end to God’s mercy, Ps 136:1, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” God offers us an abundant life, which is the result of loving Him and living in alignment with the way He designed this world, Jn 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” His eternal gift warrants our thankfulness, Heb 12:28, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:”
1 Thes 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” When we are thankful for what He is doing, we have chosen God and the eternal future He is offering. Our thankfulness flows out of our belief in God, and our choice to believe saves us, Rom 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” God wants us to be thankful because He is doing everything necessary to give us the choice of salvation and providing the option of an eternal future of ever-increasing joy. He knows our praise and thankfulness are part of the process of attaining it. It means we have gratefully accepted the benefit of the eternal life He is offering. What is the benefit of a gift we refuse to accept?
When we genuinely believe in eternity, as compared to this short life, our thankfulness pours out, Ps 107:1, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Is God asking us to give thanks for everything, even the pain we suffer in this world? Why? Eph 5:20, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Apparently, His mercy comes from His being good and everything that happens is part of the plan He chose to create His eternal family. If we do not learn to appreciate the fact that everything He created works together for good, Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” we might start blaming God for the bad things, Jam 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
God never changes, and He only gives us good gifts. When we praise Him and are thankful for everything, we begin to open our minds to the fact that we know so little of God’s plan, it is impossible for us to properly judge Him. When we are thankful for all things, we learn that the bad things that happen are the result of the actions of those of us who have chosen to reject God’s offer and are fighting against His plan. Rejecting God’s offer leads to frustration, and the futile lashing out that surely follows. Our loving response to those lashing out just might lead them to reason with God, thus saving their souls. In this life, we will all experience hatred and envy from those who are denying God and expressing their separation from Him in various negative ways. We cannot let those negative experiences lead us away from God and His goodness. He asks us to return good for evil, Matt 5:44-45, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” for the benefit of those who continue to reject Him.
When we begin to think we are smarter than God and try to judge God based on what we see in this world, our vision of an omnipotent God diminishes as we allow the light of His glory to be obscured by the darkness of our foolish hearts. Who could honestly question an all-powerful God they believed in? Rom 1:21, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” During these moments of disobedience and/or doubt, we need to remember God can use the evil in this world to produce the good He has planned, Gen 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Should we not be thankful for His gift? Eph 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
2 Cor 9:15, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” We can be thankful for the gift of eternity He has promised us, Ps 30:12, “To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” When we are thankful, we might show it by singing and dancing, Ps 95:2, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.” and 2 Sam 6:14, “And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.” Living with a feeling of joy and thankfulness sustains us when we are suffering and/or when the things we do in this life become tedious. Only God deserves our praise, Ps 100:1-5, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” for only God can provide the mercy that brings us eternal life, no one else is capable.
We can also be thankful for all of the incredible things He has already done, starting with His creating everything out of nothing, Is 12:4-5, “And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.” We might not understand all He has done. However, we can easily see no one else could have done it, Phil 4:6-7, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Ps 23:1-6, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” This is His eternal promise, and if we are not thankful for it, we will not experience it. It is our praise and thankfulness, which leads us to the fruit of the Spirit. Living the fruit of the Spirit is an expression of our love for Him and His nature.
2 Cor 9:6, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Scarcity breeds fear and the feeling of lacking, while abundance comes from the feeling of plenty. So, it is with God, if we think we lack, we will doubt God; however, if we feel we lack nothing we need, we will be thankful to God for His abundance, Phil 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Those who are trying to get us to believe in a world of scarcity are only carrying the devil’s message in an attempt to lead us away from God. God tells us how we can know who is willingly carrying the devil’s message, 2 Tim 3:2, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” to warn us and to protect us from them. We can ignore their message and praise our Lord, 2 Cor 9:11, “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” bringing us closer to Him, and His bountifulness.
Ps 145:11-13, “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” Come, let us praise our God, the creator of all things, the only one worthy of our worship, Rev 4:11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” This is the real Thanksgiving message!
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