Giving Thanks to God

THE forefathers of our nation were religious people, and many came to this land seeking freedom of worship. Hence, it is not surprising that a national holiday was established based on the giving of thanks to God. This holiday had its beginning when the pilgrims reaped an abundant harvest of food that helped them survive the hardships of that first cold New England winter. Their gratitude was expressed in a feast of thanksgiving that continued to be celebrated annually, and many years later was adopted as a national holiday in the United States.

Thanksgiving and gratitude are noble qualities which Christians are admonished to develop and practice in their lives. In Colossians 3:12-17 the fruits of the Spirit are described, and among them a thankful disposition is included: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. … And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 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 [gratitude, Diaglott] 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.” We would all do well to carefully heed the instructions given by the Apostle Paul in this letter to the Colossians. There should be a constant awareness that everything we say or do, our words or deeds, should be in the name of the Lord Jesus. We are called to represent him, and so as his footstep followers we should try to emulate those fine qualities we see so beautifully exemplified in our Master’s life.

When the Apostle Paul speaks of putting on mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patient endurance, forgiveness, love and peace, we recognize that these qualities must be developed. He concludes with the statement, “Be ye thankful.” Thus we see that thankfulness, as another fruit of the Spirit, also requires cultivation. One principal obstacle encountered in the developing of thankfulness is a poor memory. Since we all suffer somewhat from this malady, it is relatively easy to forget to be thankful. Sometimes the excitement associated with an event where we are beneficiaries of God’s grace and goodness preoccupies us so thoroughly that we forget to give thanks to our Heavenly Father. However, when we consider the circumstance later on, we should react quickly to correct our previous neglect. This habit of always giving thanks, no matter how long after the experience, eventually should cause us to grow more conscious of the need to do so at the very moment we receive God’s blessings. Thus, we may grow in this grace and develop a more ready spirit of thankfulness.

Thankfulness is a trait which we all enjoy seeing displayed. How pleasing must it be to the Heavenly Father when we express our thanks to him for his many benefits, and say with the psalmist, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.”—Ps. 68:19

An incident occurring in the life of Jesus demonstrates the attitude of gratitude as one of the characteristics sought by the Heavenly Father in calling the members of his church. An account of this experience is recorded in Luke 17:11-19. “It came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”

Leprosy has been used in the Scriptures to represent the condition of sin. Those who were healed of leprosy pictured sinners who are cleansed from sin through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. The ten lepers in this case might well represent all those desiring to be cleansed from sin during this Gospel Age. All the lepers expressed faith by asking Jesus to have mercy on them and to remove their sickness. When he told them to go and show themselves to the priests, all of them went, no doubt expecting a miracle to occur on their behalf, along the way.

Under the Mosaic Law, if a leper was healed of his disease, the priests had to approve and verify his cure before he could be reinstated into the society of Israel. Under the observation and supervision of the priests, specific rituals had to be performed, as defined in the fourteenth chapter of Leviticus. Aware of these requirements of the Law, the ten lepers hastened off to find the priests. “It came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back” and fell down at Jesus’ feet and gave thanks. Jesus told him it was his faith that had made him whole. The other nine also had faith that made them whole, but they lacked the gratitude that would induce them to return and give thanks. The excitement of realizing they were cleansed spurred them on to show themselves to the priests as Jesus had commanded, the uppermost thought in their minds no doubt being their reinstatement into the society of Israel. Now they could resume their normal way of life, no longer banished to the outskirts of the village separate from other people of Israel. This preoccupation tended to blot out thoughts of thankfulness to their benefactor. To their shame as Israelites, the one that did return was a Samaritan. Jesus said to him, “Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine?”

There is an important lesson here for all those who desire to be cleansed during the Gospel Age. Like the Samaritan, each member of the church must have gratitude in his heart for the great power of God through Christ which has cleansed him from his sins. The church, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, is aptly pictured by the Samaritan leper, since the Samaritans as a people were a mixture of Israelites and Babylonians through intermarriage. How well the gratitude of the church for their redemption through Jesus is expressed these words of the Apostle Paul: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable [inexpressible, Diaglott] gift.” (II Cor. 9:15) This gift of God was so appreciated by the apostle he could not find words to express his feelings of gratitude. What makes this gift even more precious is the knowledge that it is for the entire world of mankind as well as for his church, as Jesus said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in [into, Diaglott] him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The church during this age and the world of mankind in the Millennial Age to come have this promise of eternal life as a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:2,3), and for this all should be eternally grateful.

Thankfulness is like a song in our hearts, an expression of joy and happiness! How glad our Heavenly Father must be when he sees our happiness and gratitude of heart expressed in psalms, hymns, and songs. It is a manifestation of the “Word of Christ” dwelling richly in us. Desiring to inspire appreciation and thankfulness for the Word of truth, James wrote, “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. Of his own will begat he us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:17,18) As his children, the Word of truth dwelling in us is instrumental in accomplishing the task of conforming our lives to the character image of our Heavenly Father, whom we admire and love.

Above all, our thankfulness should be inspired by God’s goodness. We sing to the Lord from our hearts along with the psalmist, “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can show forth all his praise? Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.” (Ps. 106:1-5) What a beautiful expression of appreciation for God’s goodness, and our desire in some small measure to be worthy of his favor.

In the one hundred and seventh psalm, there is an exhortation to those whom God has redeemed: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; and gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.” (Ps. 107:2-7) This is followed by an exclamatory verse that bemoans the lack of appreciation on the part of many: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”—vs. 8

In these passages of Scripture, the church, spoken of as the redeemed, is shown to be seeking for a city—God’s kingdom—even as Abraham looked for a city: “He [Abraham] looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb. 11:10) They have been redeemed from the enemy of death, as the Apostle John has said, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” (I John 3:14) They have been gathered from every land and people. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) They were found wandering in the wilderness of this present evil world, but now have been rescued. “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” (Eph. 2:1-5) Their hunger and thirst have been satisfied: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6) But above all, they have found the city they were seeking: “Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”—Heb. 12:22

How thankful we should be that God has so richly favored us. To him be praise forever and ever!

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |