The Importance of Thanksgiving

M. A. Tomlinson wrote in the White Wing Messenger dated November 19, 1960:

The importance of thanksgiving in the lives of the early Christians is expressed by Paul. In writing to the Colossians he said, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

He further stressed the necessity of giving thanks by saying, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Paul seems to value thanksgiving equally with prayer and rejoicing. We do not limit our prayers or our rejoicing to a certain season of the year or to a set time each year, but we pray daily and we rejoice daily. Then we should also give thanks daily as part of our devotions and regular Christian service. This does not mean that it is not good for us to observe special times of thanksgiving. We give more attention to prayer on some occasions than we do others.

Sometimes we feel the need of special prayer or prevailing prayer, and it is good for us to observe certain periods for special thanksgiving. But since we do have a special time for giving thanks, we do not want to limit our thanksgiving to that particular time, but as Christians, we want to be thankful every day and every moment of our lives for the goodness of God, and we want to be constantly reminded that it is God who blesses us and that we are not sufficient within ourselves to provide these things, but we must depend on God. When we depend on the Lord to supply our needs, and He does, it is appropriate that we give thanks unto Him.

The Scripture seems to indicate that thanksgiving is an aid to our prayers, and Paul expresses the truth that it is the will of God for us to give thanks. Throughout the year and at Thanksgiving we need to spend more time thanking God for the things we have than fretting over the things that we do not have. In so many of our prayers we list a host of things that we want from God, but would our prayers not be more effective if we began by thanking God for the blessings already received? Certainly it would be an aid to our faith to recall the things God has done for us when asking for additional blessings. Paul also admonishes us, “By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Does it not seem appropriate to thank God for our own salvation before we ask Him to save others?

Should we not give thanks for the blessing we have received before becoming so concerned with our present needs? Where would we be if God had not blessed us? Let us give thanks for the things we have received from the Lord, and then we will have greater confidence to trust Him to bless us. If the children of Israel had been continuously blessing and praising God for His glorious deliverance from Egyptian bondage and at the Red Sea, they would not so soon have been murmuring and complaining on their journey to the promised land. When we neglect to praise God for His past blessings we deprive ourselves of contacts with God which would insure greater blessings at the present and in the future.

…The more time we spend counting our blessings, the longer the list becomes. God has blessed us above that which we are able to think or ask. God has blessed us in ways of which we may not even be aware. There is no limit to the blessings of God “The earth is the Lord’s.”

It is impossible to repay the Lord for even a small portion of His goodness, but we can be thankful. We cannot be thankful in a measure equal to what God has given us, but we can be thankful insofar as our human mind is capable of realizing the abundance of God’s blessings. David asked, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” This would be a good question for each of us to ask…

Probably your list of blessings would be different from that of anyone else. Your neighbor might have blessings that you have not received, but the fact remains that God has blessed each of us and we owe Him thanksgiving and gratitude all year long and not just for one day of the year. How can we best express our gratitude? It seems that the best method would be to give everything we have to the Lord in return for what He has given us.

What good advice! Can we do it? We can and we must!