The Commandment to be Thankful
By Barbara Henderson
Who should receive a ‘second helping’? The one who gave heartfelt thanks for the first helping - or the one who gave no thanks at all?
Thanking someone for a gift is considered to be good manners. If we are willing to thank our friends and peers for gifts, why would we neglect the God of our salvation? Thanksgiving with God is more than good manners. It is the beginning of blessings as well as an acknowledgement of the blessings already received. Actually, being thankful to God is probably THE smartest thing you will ever do in your entire life. Thanksgiving is the proper way for a believer to approach God.
Psalms 95:2 tells us, ‘Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.’
That clearly states that we are to come into His presence with thanksgiving. The second part of that verse says we are to approach Him with Psalms - or joyful singing. For that reason, we should consider seriously the songs with which we approach God. Do not fall into the trap of approaching God with inane repetitions of the same line. Follow the guidelines for songs in the Psalms. Anyway - back to the subject of this article - Thanksgiving.
Psalms 50 really gives us a picture of how important thanksgiving is to God. In this Psalm God tells us of His glory and power. Then He goes on to say that the people have given Him sacrifices a’ plenty. Then God says He doesn’t want their bulls, or their goats, because HE owns all that anyway. Verse 14 tells us, ‘Offer unto God thanksgiving’ and pay thy vows unto the most High”! God wants what only we can give Him - a thankful heart. The next thing God wants from us is that we take our commitment to God seriously. When you became a Christian, you chose the path of God as your own path. Take this commitment seriously. The path that follows Christ is the path of the greatest success and the least sorrow possible.
But wait - there’s more. Verse 15 tells us the reward of those who follow the instructions in verse 14. It says, ‘And call upon me in the day of trouble” I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.’ OK!!! Anyone with a heart truly seeking God can do this. Thanksgiving is the preferred offering to God. That doesn’t cost you anything. (Well - it does cost a little pride if you think you have provided the blessings in your life for yourself.)
Don’t forget to follow the instructions at the end of that verse - after God has delivered you from whatever problem you were facing - be certain to give the glory for your deliverance to God. Thank God. In everything give thanks.
One of the greatest success stories of all time is that of Nehemiah. He set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In Nehemiah 11:17 we are told that thanksgiving was so important a group of men were appointed to begin the thanksgiving part of the service in prayer - with Mattaniah as the leader. Mattaniah is mentioned again in chapter 12: 8 as being over ‘the thanksgiving’. The way the verse refers to ‘the thanksgiving’ sounds like it was a normal part of the service. I actually have a friend who is a native of India - and a great Christian leader. He said that in their service the first hour is dedicated to thanksgiving alone. That sounds good to me. Maybe we should try that here. Oh wait - that would be hard to get done and still get out by noon wouldn’t it?
Thanksgiving is not always easy. I am not talking about thanksgiving during sorrow, but thanksgiving in the midst of pride. True thankfulness requires that we sacrifice our pride in our accomplishments. It requires that we sacrifice our fear in the midst of turmoil. It requires that we sacrifice our desires and our ways for the way God has for us, and the purpose for which He created us. It even requires that we sacrifice our grief and disappointment to His hands and His ways. Psalms 116:17 says, ‘I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.’ Are you able to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord? Is the church of today able to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord?’ Is it not arrogance to forego thanksgiving as the first order of the day? If we want a second helping of God’s blessings - let us give heartfelt thanks for the first blessings of God.
Through thanksgiving, our faith grows stronger. The Psalms give list after list of the great things God did for His children. In listing these things, the people were reminded of the ways God had delivered them in the past. This gave them courage for the moment and faith that God would not abandon them to the perils which they faced right then. How many times has God delivered you from a problem? How many times has He delivered your family from a problem? How many times has He delivered America from disaster? God has power to save us. Don’t let it be our sins that cause us to miss the blessings God has for us. We don’t have to say our thanks to God in a manner as fancy as the Psalmist does. We just have to be sincere. God reads our heart like we read the funny paper. He knows true thanksgiving versus empty words.
The United States has proclaimed a specific day for Thanksgiving. While this is not a holiday ordained by the Bible, it is a way of life that is ordained by the teachings of God. We are to thank God in everything. We are to thank him everyday.
I don’t know about you - but I am so ‘busted’. I consider myself a thankful person. But when I consider the blessings God has given to me personally, to my family, and to this country, I realize that I haven’t even scratched the surface of thankfulness. I am making a New Year’s resolution right now to become someone who is more deeply thankful than I have been in the past. I know it will be good for me, my family, my country, and the world. I hope you will take the time to consider your own attitude of thankfulness - and if you find it needs ‘adjusting’ - now is the time to start.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Truly give thanks to the One who has made every good thing in your life and in the world possible.
The song for this article is ‘Come, Ye Thankful People Come’. I love the last verse - it says, ‘Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home’.
God bless you. Thank you for reading my article.
Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.