The giving of thanks is something that most of us learn at an early age. One of the first things parents teach their children is to say, “Thank you.” To do so is a sign of good manners. We are proud of our children when they learn to do this without prompting and we praise them for it. It is a signal that they understand the principle of gratitude.
Unfortunately, some people seem to lose this sense of responsibility as they grow older. One of the more disheartening signs of our modern age is the apparent lack of gratitude that seems to characterize it. We have perhaps become so accustomed to neglecting the simple matter of saying “Thank you” that we no longer recognize it when it happens.
Saying “Thank you” is certainly a small thing. Nearly everyone would agree on this. So, why has it become such a difficult thing for so many to say? Perhaps it is because too many of us actually do not feel gratitude for services rendered or kindnesses given. If one does not feel thankful for something, he will hardly take time to offer the appropriate words, will he? It is possible, of course, that some who neglect to express thanks do so because they simply haven’t given it any thought, but this is not an excuse for such a failure.
To not be thankful, for whatever reasons, is a social blunder. To not be thankful to God, however, is a sin. Thankfulness should be at the heart of all we do in worship and in service to the Lord. If we cannot be thankful to Him for all the rich blessings that He has given us, for the answers to our prayers, for the abundance of His grace, and for salvation in Jesus Christ, for what can we be thankful? It certainly behooves us to give the matter some serious thought.
The scriptures abound with expressions of thanks to God for all the things He has done. Many of the Psalms, for example, are songs of thanksgiving. Time after time, men and women in scripture gave thanks to God for the things He had done for them, or given to them. Under the Law of Moses, a thanksgiving offering, given at any time that the worshiper wanted to express gratitude to God, was an important part of the exercise of Old Testament service to God. Even our Savior on numerous occasions spoke words of thanks to His Father in heaven. For all of these, giving thanks was a natural response to the blessings that God showered upon them. They simply could not refrain from doing so.
It is interesting to notice that in the two primary New Testament passages that teach us to sing in our worship, we are commanded to do so with thanksgiving in our hearts. In Eph. 5:20 Paul said we should be “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” In Col. 3:16, 17 Paul tells us to sing with thankfulness in our hearts and to do all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Without a doubt, giving thanks to God is central to our worship and service.
There is no question that all of us are thankful to God when we celebrate our national day of thanksgiving, but we must not allow ourselves to become thoughtless in our expression of thanks to the Lord the rest of the year. God blesses His people each and every day with everything they need to live on this earth. He also blesses us each day with His grace and forgiveness. For these reasons we must always give thanks to Him.