When I was a boy, meal times always began by giving thanks. We would bow our heads around the family table, and my dad would word a prayer of thanksgiving before we began to eat. When I was old enough, sometimes I would be called upon to lead the prayer. We would not think of beginning to eat before giving thanks to God for the food. Marvina and I carried this practice on with our children, and, even to this day, although our children are grown and out of the house, we do not begin eating together before a prayer of thanksgiving.
Jesus gave thanks to the Father before feeding the 5,000, (Mt. 14:13-21; Jn. 6:11). He gave thanks before eating the passover meal by which he instituted the Lord’s Supper, (Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-23). His prayerful example is our pattern, (1 Pet. 2:21). He taught us in prayer to recognize that the Father is the source of our many blessings, including “our daily bread,” (Mt. 6:11). He also gave thanks on other occasions and for other things, (see Jn. 11:41; Mt. 11:25; Lk. 10:21). If the mighty Creator of this world felt it was necessary to offer thanks, surely we should understand the need to do so. The importance of expressing our thanks is emphasized repeatedly in the Bible. “O give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; For his lovingkindness endureth for ever,” (1 Chron. 16:34). “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward,” (1 Thess. 5:18). “And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him,” (Col. 3:17). “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Phil. 4:6). “Giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father,” (Eph. 5:20). “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, And into his courts with praise: Give thanks unto him, and bless his name,” (Ps. 100:4).
When someone courteously let you in front of them into a heavy stream of traffic, do you not feel the need to thank them? If someone holds the door open for you at a restaurant, allowing you to pass before them, would you hurry by without giving thanks? If someone pays you a visit, gives you a gift, or spends their time and energy for your benefit, isn’t it only right to thank them? Isn’t thanksgiving part of what we call “common courtesy?”
As members of the Lord’s church, we have so much for which to be thankful! The God of this universe gave his only begotten son so that we might be in this position—that we might have the hope of eternal life! Without the spiritual blessings bestowed upon us by God, we would have no hope of eternal life, we would be utterly and eternally lost. We have been blessed more than we can describe. “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift,” (2 Cor. 9:15). Words cannot express the volume and importance of the blessings God has showered upon us. Should we not take time to ponder, and articulate our thanks for these?
We should also be thankful for our brethren, our fellow travelers through this vale of tears who regularly exhort and encourage us to press onward. Where would we be without our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ? Does anyone honestly think they would make it alone, without the admonition, instruction, and encouragement of our spiritual family, the church? Our brethren are not perfect. They make many mistakes and often disappoint us, but we should be on our knees thanking God for them daily. Our godly spouses, our children, our Christian parents, and our fellow members of the church who warmly shake our hands and tell us it’s good to see us again. We need to thank them sincerely and frequently! Sometimes I read about church problems, of congregations torn apart by Satan’s devices. If we could only understand how thankful for one another we should be!
I want to pause and personally express my gratitude for the congregation here—for our leaders, and for every faithful follower. For each of you who continue to encourage me in this important work of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. And thank you for overlooking the human frailties, the mistakes in judgment, the unwise or ill-considered words, and often times the downright stupidity. Thank you, and may God grant each of us a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving! Give thanks to God, for he is good!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.