Thanksgiving is a special day Americans take to be thankful for the things they enjoy in the their lives. For the Christian, regardless of the debate about the history and origins of Thanksgiving as a holiday, this is a healthy practice. Thanksgiving is certainly not the day when we are to be thankful, that is everyday. In that sense, Thanksgiving is a holiday we ought to celebrate everyday.
However, we as Christians who are not yet in glory fail in our duties to God’s Law often. This means, while we ought be thankful everyday, we are not.
This day can then be used as a check on our souls, and can push us toward sanctification. Are you a thankful person Christian? You ought to be.
That is why I wrote this blog. My intention is to remind us of the things we ought to be thankful for. What has God revealed to us in terms of our thankfulness toward Him?
Perhaps we can allow the Word of God to sanctify this holiday, and be thankful Saints appropriately.
Here are 8 things Christians should be thankful for this Thanksgiving:
Psalm 106: 1, “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
God Himself is His greatest gift to creation. More so than anything else, God is what we ought to be thankful for. God is good and His love is perfect and endures permanently. His love and goodness are worthy of our thanks. His righteousness is worthy of our thanks (Psalm 7:17). The God who made the heavens and the earth is good, just, righteous, loving, merciful, gracious, and infinitely wise. Be thankful that He is who He is.
Psalm 51: 12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
When we read of Ephesians 1 and all that God has given His people in Christ, it is hard to imagine getting jaded. It is hard to imagine how Christians do not wake up every morning in pure ecstasy knowing they are in Christ and eternally secured. However, David hear humbly admits that the joy of His salvation needs to be restored.
We all too so easily forget of the blessing of our salvation. Our salvation by faith in Christ is gracious beyond reason. And so incomprehensible is the glory to be revealed to us, Paul said that no present suffering can even be compared to it (Romans 8:18). Paul also said that as this salvation which guarantees our resurrection with Christ continues to expand and save people, our thanksgiving for God’s grace to save sinners must increase with it (2 Corinthians 4: 14-15). Be thankful for your salvation.
3) The Scriptures
Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
What is the Word supposed to do? Richly dwell within us. With what outcome? Providing for us wisdom, and encouraging us to worship Christ, and be thankful. The Scriptures bring about our thankfulness, we ought to be thankful for them.
God has not left His people in the dark. He has spoken permanently. That is incredible news.
Christians, the Scriptures are completely sufficient to be all you need for life and godliness (2 Timothy 3: 16-17) , be thankful for His Word.
4) The Local Church
Ephesians 1: 15-16, “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers…”
Paul is so thankful for his body of believers he cannot stop being thankful for them.
This is common to Paul. In nearly every one of his letters he made sure to tell the church and believers reading how thankful he was for them and much he longed to be with them.
For Paul, the church was the greatest thing this side of heaven, and Christian fellowship was not an obligation, but a gift.
Paul loved his churches so much he even referred to them as his “crown and joy” (Philippians 4:1).
The New Testament attests to the wonderful gift that is the local church. The local church is who encourages you and stirs you to good works as you regularly meet (Hebrews 10: 24-25).
James says that the local church is the body we confess our sins to in order to find healing, restoration, and to be brought back to the truth from our wanderings (James 5: 16-20).
Your local body of believers is a glorious blessing from God. Be thankful for His divine institution this Thanksgiving.
2 Corinthians 4: 16-17, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
One of the most unique things about Christianity is our ability to be thankful for suffering. This is very counter-intuitive to the world, but the wisdom of God reveals it as our privilege and duty. God is able to decree our earthly sufferings for eternal glory.
It is because of a sovereign God who can decree and control history that we can delight in sufferings and afflictions.
This is why the Apostles found reason to rejoice after being beaten and scolded (Acts 5:41).
This is why David believed his bones that God metaphorically broke could rejoice (Psalm 51:8).
This is why the author of Hebrews says to be thankful for God’s discipline (Hebrews 12: 3-17).
James says that these sufferings not only produce an eternal glory to be revealed, but they produce a perfect steadfast now (James 1: 2-4).
Christian, your sufferings produce steadfastness and glory. Rejoice and be thankful for them.
6) Material Blessings Received
1 Timothy 4: 4-5, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
When most people are thankful this year, this is the primary category of thankfulness they will draw to their attention: the things God has given us to enjoy.
The Christian’s duty is to not make these exclusively we we are thankful for, but certainly we ought to be thankful for them. They are gifts from God!
The text uses food and marriage and food due to certain cults who were trying to prohibit these things (1-3). We should be thankful for our spouses and for the food we get to eat, but contextually, Paul expands our thankfulness to everything we have. Be grateful and appreciate for it all.
Christian, especially if you live in a 1st world country, be thankful for all of your comforts and possessions.
7) Material Blessings Given
2 Corinthians 9:11-12 “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.”
In an interesting turn of events, the apostle Paul not only commands us to receive things from God, which produces thanksgiving toward Him, but also says we ought to give cheerfully our things to those in need, whereby we also receive a thankful heart. This text is not saying the giving is what we are thankful for, but does mention that giving produces thanksgiving in others, and it is our duty to help one another experience that. Bless people and let others bless you in giving. And in that, you will stir up thankful affections toward a worthy God.
8) Everything Else
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “… [G]ive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I know, I cheated, but bear with me.
Paul says something extraordinary above. It is Christ’s will that we be thankful in all circumstances. This means thankfulness is not dependent on our circumstances, and that it is perpetual in nature. I cut the verse off, this is not only Christ’s will for us, but is part of it.
This makes sense in the context of who God is. God is the God who can make all things work for our good (Romans 8: 28), that means even the things we do not want to be thankful for.
God is the God who works all things after the council of His will, (Ephesians 1:11). All things are under His control and for His glory and good purposes. This makes all things worthy of our gratitude.
This was really Paul’s point in the famous text so often used in various contexts like athletic, academic, and professional achievements.
In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
However, notice the context prior to in verses 8-12,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Paul’s primary application is that in Christ, he is able to be thankful and rejoice. Christ is the secret, no matter the circumstances, there is never a time to not rejoice; there is never an inappropriate time to be thankful because of Jesus.
Let all things, in some way, cause gratitude and thankfulness in your heart Christian because you know Who is sovereign over all things.