The Importance of Thankfulness

Bible Thanksgiving

Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20).

The Bible clearly instructs us that we are to be thankful to the Lord for all things. While our society places particular emphasis upon thankfulness during this time of year, we are to be thankful to God at all times.

Why is it important to be thankful? The simplest answer is that the word of God instructs us to be thankful. Therefore, it is important to obey this instruction. Yet there is much more involved in our need to be thankful than just this. The Scriptures give other reasons why thankfulness is important. We will consider a few of these here.

Thankfulness Acknowledges the Goodness of God’s Creation

We know that “by the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Psalm 33:6), and that everything He created was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Therefore, every physical blessing we have to enjoy in this life can be attributed to Him. Paul wrote, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (1 Timothy 4:4). In context, Paul was discussing those who wrongly prohibited eating certain foods that God created for us to enjoy. But his underlying point was that because God’s creation is good and useful to us, we ought to respond with thankfulness.

Thankfulness Acknowledges God’s Grace

The Scriptures plainly teach that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8), though this is not an unconditional grace as many in the denominational world suppose. There are certain things that we must do in order to be saved (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10; 1 Peter 3:21). But salvation is a gift (grace) because it is something that we cannot earn (Romans 6:23). In discussing the importance of our service to God, Jesus used an illustration that would be familiar to His audience – the relationship between a master and a slave: “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded” (Luke 17:9). His point was that the master would not normally thank the servant for doing what ought to be expected (as our obedience to God is expected). Yet we are certainly to give thanks to God for our salvation (1 Corinthians 15:57; Colossians 1:12). Why? It is because salvation is not owed to us, but is undeserved.

Thankfulness is Connected to Our Acting According to Divine Authority

It is important that we remember the need for Bible authority in all that we do in our service to God. Yet Paul connected thankfulness with this in his letter to the church in Colossae: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). Doing things according to God’s instructions, rather than acting lawlessly, is necessary to be saved (Matthew 7:21-23). But when we act according to His authority, we must still demonstrate an attitude of thankfulness. This is connected to the previous point about grace. Though we might obey the Lord and do all things according to His authority, we will never earn those things granted to us by His grace. Therefore, while we must “do all in the name of the Lord,” we must continue to give thanks to Him as well.

Thankfulness is Necessary to Have the Peace of God

Paul told the brethren in Philippi that they needed to offer prayers to God with thankfulness. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We make our requests to God in prayer, but the peace of God will only come when the requests are accompanied with thanksgiving. Why? With thanksgiving, we recognize all that God has done and are reminded of the assurance that God will never desert His people, but that He will reward the faithful in the end, no matter what might happen in the meantime (Revelation 2:10).

Thankfulness is Necessary to Serve God Acceptably

The Hebrew writer explained the importance of thankfulness in connection with our service to God. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28). The Lord is our King and we must serve Him. Yet the service is not to be under compulsion, as though He was forcing us to obey Him against our will. The preaching of the gospel is done through persuasion (2 Corinthians 5:11), not through coercion. We also are not to serve the Lord grudgingly simply because others expect us to serve Him. We must serve Him willingly. This comes from a thankful heart, understanding what God has done for us. “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Conclusion

God has done so much for us – both in our physical and spiritual lives – for which we can be thankful. Let us not take for granted anything that He has done, but express our gratitude – in our prayers, our speech, and our actions – at all times throughout the year.


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