Thanksgiving is a wonderful national holiday. For most of us it is a special time of gathering with family and friends coupled with enjoyable activities, delicious food and giving of thanks.
The biblical phrase “giving thanks” comes from the Greek word eucharisteo, which is part of the charis word family. Charis is translated as “grace,” and means favor (gift). Giving thanks to the “God of all grace” (I Peter 5:10) is essentially returning gratitude to God for His grace (favor) toward us. For Christians, every day should be a day of thanksgiving, for every day we walk with the God of all grace.
Expressing gratitude to God for his grace toward us is a healthy activity as we daily walk with God. As Psalm 92:1 says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your loving kindness in the morning and your faithfulness by night.”
Why is giving thanks a good, healthy activity? Here are four reasons:
First, giving thanks to God is a beautifying experience. Psalm 33:1 says, “Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright.” Giving thanks to the Lord “beautifies” the inner man. It even enhances ones appearance. It illuminates the beauty of one enraptured by the grace of God. Spend a few minutes in the presence of an “old sourpuss,” and you will be glad when it’s over. Enter into the company of one who overflows with gratitude, and you will desire to behold such beauty for a lifetime.
Second, giving thanks is an experience that touches others. God uses his children, who give thanks to him, to positively influence others to “trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3). The man whom God used to lead me to faith in Christ 44 years ago not only shared the Gospel with me, but he also radiated a heart overflowing with gratefulness to his Savior. God used this man’s heart of gratefulness to help me hear the Gospel and lead me to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior.
Third, giving thanks gets our focus off ourselves and onto the loving and faithful Lord (Psalm 92:1). We live in a self-obsessed culture, and as a result, we are always grasping for something that brings real satisfaction in life. The way to real satisfaction is to focus on God, as Asaph testified in Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.” Daily thanking God for his loving kindness and for his faithfulness is the way to get and stay focused on him.
Most importantly, giving thanks to God is the appropriate response to God’s grace toward us. As we enter the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, what a great time to express gratitude for the greatest grace of all — the gift of God the Son who became man in order to give his life-blood for us. Because of this life-giving gift we can experience forgiveness of our sin and friendship with God through faith in Christ.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful day in the year. “Expressing gratitude to God for his grace toward us” is an even more glorious experience that believers in Christ can live out every day of their lives.
Drew Fenstermacher is pastor at Faith Baptist Church of State College. Contact him at pastor firstname.lastname@example.org.