What Do We Have to be Thankful For?

So, what do we have to be thankful for? A new pair of shoes? A new car? A new house? When we think of being thankful, we tend to think about the things we have received, or the material things that we have. Sometimes we’re thankful for things that we don’t have, like … I’m so thankful there was no school this week, or I’m thankful that I don’t have to work tomorrow. In scripture (King James Version), the word, thankful, appears only 3 times.

Merrian Webster defines it this way.

  • conscious of benefit received (for what we are about to receive make us truly thankful)
  • expressive of thanks (thankful service)
  • well pleased : GLAD (was thankful that it didn’t rain)

Scripture has it a bit different, Psalm 100:

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.

Psalm 100

The psalmist is simply saying: be thankful that God is God, and that He loves us and extends His mercy to us. I can understand that, without His mercy, where would we be?

Read Romans 1:20-25.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 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. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Romans 1:20-25

Paul is writing here explaining how even though every man has seen the glory of God, and understand it, men still did not thank Him, or even acknowledge that he was God. Instead, they made idols and worshiped them.

Read Colossians 3.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

Colossians 3

Verse 15 says, “and be ye thankful.” For what? Everything in this passage is telling us one thing: be thankful that God is God and the Christ is His son. Be thankful that Christ lives in us.

In the NLT, the word Thankful shows up only 8 times (thankfulness twice).

  • Ephesians 5:4: “Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.”
  • Colossians 2:7: “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
  • Colossians 3:15: “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
  • Colossians 3:16: “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.”
  • Colossians 4:2: [ An Encouragement for Prayer ] “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13: “As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.”
  • Hebrews 12:28: ” Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”

So, according to scripture, being thankful isn’t an expression of thanks, or being glad, but rather, it is a mind-set about who God is, what He is, and the fact that He is God. God calls us to be thankful always not just when something good happens.

So what about all the good things that God does? What do we call it when we celebrate good things, when we want to give God glory for the wonderful things that He does for us? When do we give him thanks? Well, if you live in the USA, it’s on the last Thursday of November. But I think we can do better then that.

Definition of Thanksgiving

  • the act of giving thanks
  • a prayer expressing gratitude
  • a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

The word, Thanksgiving, shows up 29 times in scripture (in both the KJV and the NLT). It always has to do with giving God the glory for what He has done.

  • Leviticus 22:29: “And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.”
  • Nehemiah 12:8: “Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.”
  • Nehemiah 12:27: “And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.”
  • Nehemiah 12:46: “For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.”
  • Psalm 26:7: “That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.”
  • 2 Corinthians 9:11-12: “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;”
  • Philippians 4:6: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
  • Colossians 2:7: “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
  • Revelation 7:12: “Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”

So according to scripture, being thankful is a state of mind that we are to be in at all times, and thanksgiving is what we do when we receive those wonderful and good things from God, giving Him praise and thanksgiving always.