You may know that the Bible teaches us to be thankful but have you ever wondered how many times it does? According to Biblegateway.com, in the NIV version the words “give thanks” appears 29 times, “gave thanks” appears 14 times and “thanksgiving” appears 30 times. To be mentioned that frequently, being thankful must be an essential part of Christian life. Let’s explore three reasons why that may be.
Change Our Focus:
We live in a world that is obsessed with possessions. We buy bigger and bigger houses to hold all of our stuff and then rent spaces where we can store even more. The philosophy of the material world is that whoever has the most toys, wins. People buy things they don’t need often with money they don’t have.
When we buy in to the philosophy that more is better, we focus on what we lack. We feel less than others because they have more. So we believe that if we only had this one thing, life would be better. When we get it, we strive for something else. The cycle continues while we remain unfulfilled.
Yet, that is a distorted philosophy of value, especially for Christian living. As children of God, we are not defined by what we have but by whose we are. A focus on gratitude moves our thoughts from what we don’t have to appreciating all that we do have. God has blessed each and every one of us more than we could ever deserve. Reflecting on our blessings takes the focus off of us and places it on the Father, and on others, where it belongs. A life lived in thanksgiving is reflective of Paul. No matter his circumstances, be it luxury or poverty, he was content.
Shows Appreciation for Gifts
Have you ever taken the time to give someone the perfect gift? My daughter has always been a thoughtful giver. When she was seven, she had me take her to different stores until she found just the right gift for her best friend’s birthday. She was so excited, filled with the anticipation of seeing her friend’s face. But at the party, her friend was caught up in the number of gifts she received. She opened my daughter’s , said a quick “thanks” and quickly moved to opening all of the rest. The disappointment my daughter felt was palpable.
God must be disappointed at times by our lack of response to His perfect gifts. He pours out His blessings on His children, yet, too often we fail to genuinely express our thanks to Him.
We are, however, good at expressing our complaints about the gifts we don’t receive. We sometimes forget that He was not created for us, to give us what we want. He created us for Him, to give Him the praise He so richly deserves. Living a life of thanksgiving demonstrates our appreciation for our Father and His wonderful gifts.
Reaffirms God’s Sovereignty
Life can be hard. It is filled with pitfalls and trials often it seems, at every turn. Living a life of thanksgiving, no matter the circumstances, reaffirms our faith in God’s sovereignty. If He is truly in control of all things than we can have faith that whatever circumstance we are going through, He has either ordained or allowed. We may not always have the wisdom to know why, but our faith gives us peace. As God is good, we can rejoice in all circumstances for whatever it is we are experiencing will be for good in due course.
Ultimately, God calls us to be thankful because a life truly lived in faith will be a life lived in gratitude. Gratitude is the outward manifestation of our inner joy in the Lord. So, let’s strive to live a life of “doing’ thankful instead of just “hearing” thankful. And when we do, to paraphrase 1 Peter, we should be prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. For the world will see it and wonder.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.