A thankful heart is one of the primary traits we receive from Christ when we become His. We receive the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:16), and an inner overflowing gratitude for our redemption, forgiveness, and our freedom from sin and death. Everything takes on a new value in the light of knowing Christ. Now giving thanks is not just an expression of our gratefulness, but also an acknowledgment of God's graciousness. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all; how will He not also freely give us all things" (Rom. 8:32)? When we have Christ we never lack a reason to be thankful.
There are so many passages in God's Word that reveal thankfulness as a mark and calling of the believer. We are to come to Him in thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4), giving thanks for our salvation (Col. 1:12f; 3:15). We are to give thanks for God's goodness and on-going mercy (1 Chronicles 16:34,35; Ps. 106:1; 107:1; 118:1, 29). We give thanks for God's provision (John 6:11), and our ultimate victory in Christ (1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14). We are even to be thankful for one another in the Lord (Eph. 1:16; Col. 1:3; 1 Thes. 3:9). Finally, we are called and equipped to give thanks continually (Heb. 13:15), and for all things (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thes. 5:18; Col. 3:17).
Just as a thankful heart is the essential nature of every “born-again” believer in Christ, we are told that a spirit of ungratefulness marks the unbelieving world (Romans 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5). What is clear from these passages; is that the consequence of such denial and ungratefulness toward God ultimately leads to His rejection.
The man Job, of the Old Testament, is one of the great examples of an upright believer who had much, and lost much; yet remained thankful. Job was attacked by Satan (Job 1-2), relieved of all his possessions (Job 1:13-17), robbed of his family (Job 1:18,19), struck down in his health (Job 2:7,8), tormented by the loss of his wife's love & support (2:9), insulted by his “so-called friends who blamed him and left despairing of life itself (Job 3:1f). Yet in all of this, Job's amazing response was, " The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).
Job's response to the trials in his life reveal the convictions of a thankful heart.
First, Job knew the Lord and recognized His sovereignty. He humbled himself before God, and worshiped (Job 1:20). Second, Job understood that God is the source of everything that we possess (Job 1:21; Job 2:10; Rom. 11:33-36; Jas. 1:17). third, Job realized that even he belonged to God, who could do with him as He so desired (Job 1:22; 2:10).
Job is a great example that a true heart of thanks begins with the personal knowledge of God, and is not primarily based upon our health, the amount of things we possess or the circumstances around us at any given time. While it is right and fitting to give thanks to God for His abundant blessing, this should never be our only focus for Thanksgiving.
As we anticipate another Thanksgiving Holiday, take a minute to ask yourself, "If all I had left was God my Savior alone, would I still have reason enough to thank Him?" If so, then all of the other precious gifts you enjoy from His hand will grow even sweeter by far. I pray that your "Thanksgiving" be much more than just another holiday weekend.
HAVE A TRULY BLESSED (HAPPY) THANKSGIVING!
~ Pastor Cliff