The Root of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in the Bible

The Thanksgiving holiday has come once again with the appropriate trimmings. It is once again a time when the world will somewhat focus upon a general idea of God. This can be a good thing – at least as a start. God is truly worthy of our thanksgiving and remembrance and the Bible has several passages which emphasize the idea of thanksgiving.

Old Testament

For instance, the peace offering was expected to be given with a spirit of thanksgiving (Lev. 7:12ff). This is perhaps due to the freewill nature of such an offering, as opposed to a sacrifice for committed sin. The Pslamists use the idea of thanksgiving several times, many in connection with their own expression of joy and wonderment (Psa. 26:7, 42:4; 50:14; et al.).

New Testament

The New Testament also uses the idea of thanksgiving on occasion. The word is the most common translation of the word eucharistia. However, in the New Testament this idea of thanksgiving is most commonly connected with the humble attitude of one making request of God. It is no accident it occurs twice in direct correlation to prayer (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2).

When one examines this idea, however, its most striking impact comes not from its general idea, but the root from which the idea comes. The word alone has been used in connection with the Lord’s Supper, focusing upon a remembrance and thankful spirit at such a voluntary sacrifice. But it is what that sacrifice means, specifically grace, that is so important. It is no coincidence that the word used in the New Testament for “grace” is charis – a common root and sister-word to “thanksgiving.”

God is Worthy

The most important thing to remember in regard to thanksgiving before God is why He is worthy of our thanks. It is because He created us, and because He provides for us. It is because He is beyond wonder and comprehension. But it is at the foremost because He demonstrated His love through grace. Without such grace, nothing else has much meaning in eternal terms.

When we remember to thank God for the great blessings in our lives, let us never forget to thank God for His grace. Not only is it such a wondrous, undeserved gift, it is also part of the very root from which the entire idea of thanksgiving comes. How can one have a spirit of thanksgiving without it?

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