The Significance And Purpose Of Thanksgiving

Grace For The Journey


25Nov  This is Thanksgiving week.  I want to use the my blogs this week to look at the biblical teaching on the why and what of Thanksgiving.  Giving thanks is no small thing for the Christian.  But far too many of us have the wrong idea about thanksgiving.  Deep down, we may see the command to give thanks as optional or something that we do when things are going good.  It is sad when gratitude is not a normal response to the very people who have the most to be thankful for . . .

To sinners forever saved by grace,

Thanksgiving should be significant.

Allow me to use today’s blog to share some biblical truths about the real significance and purpose of having a thankful heart.

1) It Is A Response Of The Grace of God.

We were created by God

To not only experience and enjoy

God’s grace but

To express our unending

Gratitude for His grace.

Through the redeeming work of Jesus we are freed to experience, enjoy, and express our eternal gratitude even more clearly and fully.

Gratitude becomes a central biblical and spiritual response of the heart to the grace of God. The Bible commands gratitude to God as one of our highest duties.  The Bible says in Psalms 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.”  God says that gratitude honors Him – The Bible says in Psalm 50:23, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me”

Note the close connection between thanksgiving and the massive biblical reality of honoring and glorifying God.  Thanksgiving is a big thing in the life of the Christian.

2) It Is Central to Honoring God.

The Bible teaches us that thanksgiving is what we were created for, and I believe it is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

The Bible says in Romans 1:21, “Although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  

Do you see that?

Side by side

With honoring God

Is giving Him thanks.

Don’t underestimate the importance of thanksgiving.  Gratitude is essential in doing whatever we do to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and thanklessness is deeply intertwined with what it means to “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  This no small thing.

So, consider this jarring thought:

“The real difference between

A Christian and a non-Christian

Is that the former 

Lives to give thanks,

Honor, and

Give glory to God”

In A Praying Life, Paul Miller adds some similar reflections about the centrality of thanksgiving for the Christian, “While it was thanklessness that was the first sin to emerge from our ancient rebellion against God” (Romans 1:21), in our ongoing redemption, it is thanksgiving that “replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one.”

Thanksgiving is important – essential – because the Christian life, from the beginning to end, is a life of extraordinary grace and gratitude for what God has done through our Lord Jesus.

3) It Nullifies A Debtor’s Ethic.

But a real danger lurks in each of our lives.  The Bible doesn’t have much, if anything, to say about obeying out of gratitude.

Giving thanks to God

For what He has

Given to us

Is precious and essential

. . . But so is trusting Him

For His ongoing provision

In the future.

Thanksgiving is important . . .

But it can go bad on us . . .

If we try to give it Faith’s job.

There is an impulse in every fallen human heart – to forget that gratitude is a spontaneous response of joy to knowing and receiving something.  When we forget this, what happens is gratitude starts to be misused and distorted as an impulse to pay for the very thing that came to us out of the free, unmerited grace of God.

This terrible disposition

Is the birthplace

Of the “debtor’s ethic.”

The debtor’s ethic says,

“Because you have done something good for me,

I feel indebted to do something good for you.”

This impulse is not what gratitude was designed to produce.  God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another.  He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favors.  If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor’s ethic – and the effect is to nullify grace.

4) It Involves Thanks For The Past And Trust For The Future.

The one who develops a heart of thanksgiving must learn to delegate, and not attempt to do all the work itself.


Thanksgiving has an

Indispensable ally

Named Faith,

And they need to stay

In good communication.

Gratitude exults in the past benefits of God and leads us in faith to embrace grace more and look forward to even more of these benefits for the future.

This causes us

To be more eager

To look back and see

What God has done

And anticipate what

God will continue

To do in the future.

This will lead us with a deep yearning to delight in God and His amazing grace.  We will happily and excitedly keep on trusting Him and look to Jesus for more grace.

5) There Is More Grace to Come.

May God be pleased to fill us to overflowing with thanksgiving for His amazing graces – the greatest of which is the gift of Himself in the person of His Son.  And may thanksgiving give rise to great hope that the God who has so richly provided for us will most certainly give us everything we need for our everlasting good – and continue for all eternity showing us “the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

The grace we’ve have experienced and enjoyed so far

is only a taste of the grace that is to come!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


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