Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is … be filled with the Spirit … giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:17, 18, 20)
Thanksgiving is a rare commodity under the sun. In making this statement, I am not referring to the national holiday that we are passing or a brief passing moment of reflection before we partake of a meal. I am speaking of the life of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Murmuring and complaining were absent from His speech (Philippians 2:14-15). A quiet contentment and trust in His Father’s providence reigned and guarded His heart. From all eternity, the Father rejoiced in thanksgiving over His Son. The Son infinitely imaged and reflected thanksgiving to the Father. Gratitude is inherent in the glorification of God as God. Romans 1:21 unites the glorification of God as God and thankfulness. Fallen man is by nature unthankful, evidencing empty reasoning and a darkened foolish heart.
One of the manifestations of being filled with the Spirit is the giving of thanks. Therefore thankfulness is to be supernaturally characteristic of the church of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:15 describes our ever-present gratitude as an offering of the sacrifice of praise. A believer praises God, not in the mere singing of gospel hymns but in speech that is controlled by Spirit-filled thanksgiving. A follower of God walking in love is known as a thankful believer by the congregation (Ephesians 5:1-4).
Genuine gratitude is sourced in Deity; that is, thanksgiving is of the Spirit. There is a covetous form of thankfulness because one’s carnal desires have been temporarily satisfied. Since you have made much of me, I will make much of you by thanking you. This is not New Testament gratitude. New Testament thanksgiving is exhibited always for all things unto God. The object of our gratitude is God the Father. The all things become the ground and occasion of joyful gratitude instead of murmuring and complaint.
Thanksgiving is to be presented unto the Lord in the midst of a sinful world. In other words, in the midst of man’s sin, sorrows, and spiritual struggles, gratitude reigns from the contented heart of a believer. Jesus Christ was thankful in the midst of spiritual ignorance, pharisaical assaults, material impoverishment, and during His betrayal (Matthew 11:25, 15:36, 26:27; John 6:11, 23). A weakened, infirmed Paul expressed thanksgiving over the worst of circumstances and church problems.
Brethren, we are to be known by a supernatural thankfulness. This glorious Light is part of our testimony that we are followers of Him, who infinitely radiated gratitude to the Father; even unto death, the death of the cross. Gratitude is evidence that His people are walking in love.
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectedness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:14-17)