The women in our outreach group spent the morning with Hilda at her rural home in Mozambique. We helped with all her tasks, from hoeing to grinding maize to cooking to hauling water. Instead of walking the 2 km to the river to fetch water, we drove with our vehicle and filled every container she had. The incredible thankfulness she displayed as we arrived is a picture I will never forget. Never in her entire life, had she had so much water in one day! Her eyes filled with tears as she watched us offload and she kept saying thank you, thank you, thank you!
Gratitude is a deep feeling of appreciation for what we have and is expressed in actions of thankfulness. Gratefulness is a wonderful feeling, but its real power is released through expression. A famous American novelist once said: “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone”. If Hilda experienced gratitude but failed to say anything to us, we would never have known how much she appreciated our assistance.
Different studies have been done about the positive effects which thankfulness has on a person’s mental, physical and emotional health and it is clear that it puts you in a space of contentment and happiness. It reduces toxic emotions, improves sleep, self-esteem, empathy, mental and physical health.
No wonder the Word of God is filled with scriptures which tell us to be thankful.
Psalm 107:1 encourages Personal Thankfulness: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chron 16:34
“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” – Psalm 69:30
Psalm 118:28–29: “You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Colossians 3:15–17 encourages Corporate Thankfulness amongst believers: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Paul makes it clear that the corporate expression of thankfulness should be an integral part of a believer’s life.
“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:2-3
When we are thankful, we obey God’s will for our lives.
In 1 Thes 5:15–18 we see that thankfulness is God’s will for each of us: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It is interesting that the instruction is to give thanks IN all circumstances and not FOR all circumstances. No matter what you are facing, God remains loving, gracious and kind. We thank Him for His attributes in our situation, not for the situation per se. We can give thanks in anything because Jesus Christ is Lord and He has overcome the world! John 16:33
In Luke 17 when Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one came back and expressed his thankfulness to Jesus. Jesus asked him how it is that he healed 10 and only one came back to thank Him. He then sent him on his way with the words in verse 19: “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
By being thankful, we worship God.
Thankfulness is an important element of worship. Psalm 50:23: “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” By offering a sacrifice of gratitude, we recognize and confirm God’s amazing attributes such as mercy and love, and we learn to recognize the presence of these attributes in our own lives. By being thankful we do not only glorify God, but we become more aware of His care in our lives. When we give thanks to God even in difficult circumstances, our thanksgiving becomes an expression of faith in God’s goodness.
Thankfulness opens the way into God’s presence.
Psalm 100:1–5 is a beautiful description of how thanksgiving is the gate through which we enter into His presence: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
“The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud,” 2 Chron 5:13
By giving thanks we respond to God’s love, His goodness and His faithfulness. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever” Psalm 136: 1–3
What should we be thankful for?
Mostly for God’s character, His love and faithfulness and His grace on our lives.
1 Tim 2:1–4 motivates us to be Thankful for Leadership. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” We often hear teaching on the importance of praying for our leaders, but seldom on the importance of giving thanks for them.
Heb 12:28-29 explains one of the greatest reasons for our thankfulness, and that is the fact that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have inherited a Kingdom which cannot be shaken. In a world filled with uncertainty and fear, we can be extremely thankful for being part of God’s unshakable Kingdom. His word is always true, his principles never change, His love and faithfulness are from generation to generation. “Since we are receiving our rights to an unshakeable kingdom we should be extremely thankful and offer God the purest worship that delights his heart as we lay down our lives in absolute surrender, filled with awe. For our God is a holy, devouring fire!
What are some of the things which thankfulness produces in our lives?
Thankfulness builds our faith and causes us to focus on God instead of our problems.
Thankfulness Eases Stress: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Phil 4:6 – 7 (NIV)
Thankfulness Leads to Witnessing: “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds” – Psalm 9:1 (NIV)
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” – 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:16-17 (NIV)
I would like to share with you what a few prominent Christian leaders have to say about thankfulness:
“In happy moments, praise God. In difficult moments, seek God. In quiet moments, worship God. In painful moments, trust God. Every moment, THANK GOD.” –Rick Warren
“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” –A.W. Tozer
“When we choose thankful prayer over wallowing in anxiety and worry, we are demonstrating an unwavering trust in God.” –Priscilla Shirer
“Gratitude’ comes from the same word as freedom (gratis = free). Gratitude is the freeing expression of a free heart toward one who freely gave.” –Ravi Zacharias
“A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned to the Lord. Thank God in the midst of trials and every persecution.” –Billy Graham
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Paul (Col 3:14-15)
Henry Smith was a Christian songwriter who wrote the following song in 1978. Forty years later it is still as valid as the day he wrote it, and my prayer is that you will develop a deep sense of gratitude to God which will be evident in all you do and say:
“Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the holy one,
Give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ His Son.
And now let the weak say I am strong,
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us