How Do We Express Thanksgiving?

Under the Jewish sacrificial system, each sacrifice was offered in order to express thanksgiving to the Lord. The offering was made for a specific purpose. There were sacrifices celebrating and thanking God for being their Father, atonement for their sins, for peace, for 1st male born in a household, dedication of altars, a new city gate, meeting places of worship, Passover, and others. It’s obvious that God expected His people to be thankful for providing for their daily needs. It was also a major part of their Law.

Not all examples of thanksgiving required a physical sacrifice. There were fellowship offerings associated with meals (Leviticus 7: 13, 17). Thanksgiving was in the form of song (Ezra 3: 11, Nehemiah 11:17, 12:8). Expository thanksgiving during worship (Nehemiah 12:24, 12:27). A musical director was appointed to assure songs of thanksgiving were sung during worship. Thanksgiving glorifying God in music and song are mentioned throughout Psalms.

We don’t live under Mosaic Law today but Christ and the New Testament writers tell us over and over that we need to express our thanksgiving for all the great things God does for us. Thankfulness is a major topic in Paul’s epistles. “He gave thanks for God’s grace continually”; he extolled the blessing of communion – cup of thanksgiving. He explained that their generosity for helping others was a direct thanksgiving to God. He explained that thanksgiving should replace obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which is out of place (Ephesians 5:4). Thanksgiving to God can subdue our anxiety when we turn to God in prayer, Phil. 4:6. He closed almost all of his epistles with a sentence thanking God for the personal support and prayers given him by the disciples. All these examples were not commanded by Law but were results of the grace and love Christ showed to us during his ministry.

Thanksgiving is obviously an important part of our daily walk with Christ. As we read we see there are many ways of expressing thanks. The work we do for the needy of our area is a prime example of how to practice this grace. We don’t expect anything in return because we’re just trying to bless families who are in a financial jam. These people leave with grateful hearts. This is grace at the basic level. It’s also the way the Lord blesses us each day. The giver gets more out of the gift than the receiver. That’s a truism that is a result of our study of God’s words about our obligations to give and the great feeling experienced when we do. That’s probably why Jesus told us that when we do good to those in need, or even our enemies, we’re doing it unto Him.

A thankful spirit is the result of our giving as well as our receiving.


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