Thanks Giving

Juan Carlos Ortiz, South American Pastor tells this in his book Disciple:

Our words have become like empty boxes. In order to teach my congregation about this I began to question them. When someone said, “Praise the Lord!” I said, “Wait a minute! why do you praise the Lord?” “Well, I praise the Lord because ahhh, because, well ahhh…” He didn’t know! David said, Praise the Lord for His mighty deeds. We haven’t done that. We come to church with wheelbarrows full of beautifully wrapped boxes tied with nice ribbons and big cards reading, ‘Praise the Lord!’, ‘Alleluia!’,
‘Glory to God’ and ‘Amen!’ And the Pastors have said, “What  wonderful people! They have come to church with so much praise.” And all the boxes have been brought to the altar. But when God has opened His presents, He’s found nothing inside. (1975:67)

How often are we like that? I want to look at 3 reasons for why Thanksgiving is important. Firstly, we give thanks to God because everything comes from Him:

When we give our money, we are not giving anything to God! That is true but we are still not giving anything to God. Rather God is
allowing you to keep something for ourselves. The Bible’s emphasis is that everything belongs to God and so we are meant to give all to
Him. But out of His kindness He allows us to keep the majority for our needs and give only a small portion to him. But we still need to
remember that even the portion that we keep really belongs to God. In Lev. 25:23 God tells the Israelites when they were about to
enter the Promised Land, The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and my tenants. The land was God’s and they his tenants to cultivate it for him. That is why Naboth refused to sell his vineyard to King Ahab. Therefore the Lord told Moses, Say to the people of Israel, when you come into the land which I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest; and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, that you may find acceptance. The first
fruits belonged to the Lord as the owner. This principle comes from Creation itself. God created and owned the Earth and he appointed
Adam and Eve as stewards of creation. As Psalm 24: 1 says “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who
dwell therein.” Psalm 115: 16 adds “The heavens are the LORD’s, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.” Therefore as Psalm
8: 3-8 says “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have established; what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than God, and have crowned him with glory and honour.” So we are responsible to God for all we do with his creation. We have to give thanks to Him for His provisions.

But God’s blessings are not limited to the physical area only. Everything we have or earn or get comes from God. For instance, our
degrees. These are, the fruit of intelligence and capabilities that came from God. We can thank God for our health, our salvation, our
families, etc.

Secondly, it is our duty and responsibility to thank God Paul states, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 The. 5:18. So it is God’s will that we thank him. Why? Because an ungrateful heart does not lead to blessing. but a grateful heart leads to joy and peace. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, Phil. 4: 6-7. Its result is “the peace of God” which stands like a guard or sentry to protect our hearts and minds from fear, doubt or worry. We need to give thanks, even when things go wrong, (Rom. 8:28). I have learnt to give thanks in accidents, in financial difficulties as well as in prosperity.

As one writer points out “God has not promised skies always blue, flower strewn pathways all out lives though, God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain. But God has promised strength for the day, rest from the labour, light for the way, grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.” Let us therefore thank God for his blessings and strength in our problems.

Thanksgiving is an essential part of a Christian’s prayer life. Paul points this out in Col. 4: 2: Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Barclay  translates “being thankful” as “and let thanksgiving be always a part of it.” The emphasis on
“thanksgiving” is a characteristic of Paul’s letters. Thirdly, thankfulness must be seen in our ethical lifestyle Physical offerings can never be enough, as God owns everything. So no matter what we give it can never be enough. No, it must be seen in our ethical lifestyle. Micah in vs. 8 defines the “Good Life” as “ to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” Do you know this Good Life? There are 3 areas listed here.

First there is justice. God is a God of Justice and He hates injustice. Are we fair and just to our colleagues, our subordinates, and our family members?

The second area is kindness. This is doing some unasked for help or favour to another. How do we help those who are less fortunate than us? This kindness cannot be measured in money. But one of the greatest compliments is “he was a kind person because he helped all without expecting a reward.” The Christian must remember that it is not his/her words but his/her life that will attract or repel the others from the Gospel. As someone said, “People may not read the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John but they will read the Gospel according to you andme!”

The third condition is to walk humbly with your God. An ethical life style will lead to humbleness before God as we realise how much
we need him and the strength the Holy Spirit gives.

May thankfulness become a characteristic of our lives.

About the Author:

Peter S. C. Pothan worked for 25 years in TAFTEE. After retirement he is still teaching Theological Cousrses. He is currently Asst Director of the Distance Learning Dept of SABC. He lives in Bangalore with his wife and two children.

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