For many, Thanksgiving Day is the last moment of rest before the onslaught of Christmas begins. In our present era, before Halloween has past, department stores begin their season of Christmas sales. It is almost as if they are skipping Thanksgiving entirely. Thanksgiving Day is built into the fabric of our national identity (along with football, hunting, and ice hockey). What isn’t necessarily part of our national identity is “thanksgiving”. However, it is possible for November to be the time of year that our hearts and minds begin pondering the meaning of thanksgiving.
The Bible has much to say about “thanksgiving”;
The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud, (2 Chronicles 5:13 NIV)
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15 NIV)
From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. (Jeremiah 30:19 NIV)
For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the musicians and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47 So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the musicians and the gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron. (Nehemiah 12:46-47 NIV)
I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
(Psalm 9:1 NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17 NIV)
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:8-9 NIV)
Thankfulness is the beginning point of sanctification. Stephen Nielsen list thankfulness as one of 7 Things to Practice for Holiness. Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae states, “Thanksgiving [gratiarum actio] in the recipient corresponds to the favor [gratia] of the giver: so that when there is greater favor on the part of the giver, greater thanks are due on the part of the recipient.” Jesus demonstrate this point in his story about the two debtors who had their debt forgiven.
When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” (Luke 7:42b–43 ESV)
When the giver is God and the gift is salvation, in this life and the life to come, an unending outpouring of thanks is due (as the natural response to the gift). A better way to put it is, the gift of salvation results in an unending chorus of thankfulness. So, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from this point on be unrelenting in lifting up our voices in thanksgiving for all that God has given to us.
“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” — Henry Ward Beecher