Giving thanks is a foundational response to God in the Bible. When you grow in the knowledge of God and your focus is on Him, you can, as the Scripture says, “in all things give thanks.”
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,Psalm 136:1 (ESV)
for his steadfast love endures forever.
What does the Bible say about giving thanks in all things?
You can give thanks in all things because thanksgiving is a response to the goodness and grace of God. God’s nature does not change based on outward circumstances.
It’s difficult to be thankful when you are:
- Not trusting fully in God’s faithfulness
- Not fully yielded to God as the good King
- Proud or arrogant
- Focused only on the negative
- Jealous or envious of others
- Holding on to anger or bitterness
Thankfulness is one of the ways to measure your spiritual health. It’s an indicator of how much you know God. It can reveal how much you are trusting in Him.
When you are growing in the knowledge of God, you can give thanks in every circumstance. It doesn’t matter whether you have plenty or are in need. You can have a spirit of thanksgiving that carries you into God’s heart for your life.
In this world, it’s easy to take things for granted. We need to remember to give thanks in every circumstance.
God made the world to work in such a way that people can see His character and faithfulness in the world (Rom. 1:20).
- The air we breathe every time we take a breath
- The sun that gives light, warmth, and life to plants and all living things
- The intricate way our bodies work
- The laws of nature that keep our universe in order
- The beautiful things of the human spirit like love, kindness, wisdom, and compassion.
- And the list goes on…
We have an endless list of things that are common grace everyone experiences. We also have the greatest display of God’s goodness and faithfulness to the world, His special grace.
This takes our thanksgiving to a whole other level.
Giving thanks is meant to bring encouragement and strength no matter what you’re going through. Let’s take a closer look at what the Bible says about thankfulness, why it’s important and powerful, and how you can give thanks in everything.
The Meaning of Thanksgiving in the Bible
What is the meaning of thanksgiving in the Bible?
Thanksgiving in the Bible means to respond to God’s goodness and grace with gratitude. The word for giving thanks in the Old Testament means to raise hands to God in gratitude. The New Testament word for thanks has the root idea of grace.
The biblical definition of thanks is very rich and meaningful. It’s a different way of looking at life and how God works in the world. It’s based on God’s goodness towards mankind and involves responding to Him with our whole being.
In the New Testament, the word for thanks means to be “thankful for God’s grace.” The root word in Greek actually has the word grace in it.
When you give thanks, you’re responding to God’s goodness and graciousness.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.Psa. 136:1 (ESV)
In the Old Testament, the main words for thanks come from the root word which means to lift up hands. Many English translations translate the word as thanks or sometimes, praise.
What does giving thanks have to do with lifting up hands? To open and lift your hands is one response when you’ve been shown grace and kindness. It’s a way of expressing openness to the person who gave the gift and a way of acknowledging their graciousness.
Thanksgiving is a beautiful picture of our response to God, our loving Creator and Father in heaven. Because you have been created by a kind Creator, you can live your life with purpose. Because you are loved by a loving Father in heaven, you are free to grow and thrive. It would be unnatural to be ungrateful.
Giving thanks with hands lifted is a sign of full surrender to God. The Lord is good and faithful. His loving kindness endures forever. Thanksgiving is a way of saying: “I let go of fighting for control of my life. I surrender it to You, Lord.”
We all came into this world empty-handed – as a baby with no possessions. We will leave with nothing that we can keep of our own belongings.
Giving thanks is a way of saying:
“God, I come empty-handed. Every good gift comes from You. In this age and in the age to come, I can live with confidence because You are good. Your nature does not change. You are faithful.
You are the God of justice. You will make all things right. At the end of it all, everyone will say: “You are righteous and Your judgments, they are just!” And You did this all, while giving everyone space to voluntarily choose You.
Give me wisdom to live my life with thanksgiving.”
In responding to God, who is good, thanksgiving is a way to praise Him. God is the very definition of goodness because He’s the good Creator of all things. We can voluntarily respond to His goodness by lifting our hands to Him in worship.
What Does the Bible Say About Giving Thanks in All Things?
It’s entirely possible and necessary to give thanks in all things.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thes. 5:18 (ESV)
You can give thanks in all things because of God’s nature and character. He is faithful. He is good. He is gracious. He is merciful. He is full of love and compassion. He does not change.
Things in life can change at any moment, but when you’re filled with thanksgiving, you can weather any storm in life and come through it filled with praise and thanksgiving.
We don’t always know how life will go. But we always know what God’s will for us is: It’s to give thanks in light of His goodness. Because He is good and His nature does not change, we can always give thanks.
It’s sometimes explained that the Bible tells us to give thanks in all things, not for all things. No one in their right mind would be thankful for evil, wickness, injustice, and oppression. But no matter what happens, we can give thanks to God and He will carry us through.
It’s also possible to have many things but not be thankful. In today’s world, many people have more conveniences, live longer, and have more opportunities than any other time in the history of the world. But this doesn’t mean that life becomes more meaningful and fulfilling.
When we don’t give thanks, we can’t appreciate what I have. We’re always looking for what we don’t have.
It’s a serious thing to be ungrateful. Romans 1:21 explains that not giving thanks to God is one of the responses that leads to confusion and a heart filled with darkness.
This is a sobering thought, but that’s the reason Jesus died on the cross. He satisfied the justice of God through His sinless life and perfect sacrifice. He took the full wrath of God upon Himself.
Knowing God and opening to His goodness results in thankfulness.
The natural response to God’s love and mercy is a thankful heart.
So much more can be said about the love and grace of God in Christ. Here is an article where I share what the Bible says about this important topic: Does God Love Me? How You Can Know For Sure (link opens in a new window). I hope it’ll open up new doors of insight into God’s love for you.
How to Give Thanks in All Circumstances
What does the Bible say about giving thanks in all things?
You can give thanks in all things if you focus on who God is. You can’t be gripped by the problems around you. You have to let God’s grace grip you instead.
When you’re growing in the knowledge of God, you can give thanks in every circumstance. It doesn’t matter whether you have plenty or are in need. You can have a spirit of thanksgiving that carries you into God’s heart for your life.
- Giving thanks is sometimes an act of faith. It’s an act of trust in a loving heavenly Father. It’s believing that what the Bible says about Him is true.
- Giving thanks makes you to look to God instead of what’s going on in the world around you. Instead of meditating on your problems, thanksgiving looks at what is good, encouraging, and life-giving.
- Giving thanks is a way of letting go of the things in your life. Letting go is a choice. It’s a way of lifting up your hands to God and looking to Him instead. This is the definition of the word used in the Old Testament for thanksgiving (see above).
God upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3), so instead of grasping after the things in your life, let God uphold you.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these thingsPhil 4:8 (ESV)
Thanksgiving is at the core of prayer in the New Testament (Eph. 1:16). It’s the basis of why we can pray. We pray because God has revealed His goodness to us.
Prayer is not only about bringing a list of our needs and wants to God. God already knows what you need before you ask Him (Matt. 6:8). Instead, you can pray like Jesus taught in what’s known as the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13).
Start by looking to God. He is Our Father in heaven. He is whole, complete, and holy. Look to what His will, His Kingdom is.
Wait until your mind has been clear of spiritual and mental “toxins,” your vision has been refocused, and your heart is rooted in God’s love. Then, go ahead and ask God for your daily bread, what you need today.
Give Thanks to the Lord for He Is Good!
- Is there a spirit of thanksgiving in your life?
- What can you do today to grow in the spirit of thanksgiving?
- What trait of God’s character can you meditate on?
- What can you be thankful for today?
As you grow in the knowledge of God, let His goodness lead you and carry you through every season of your life. So that in all things, you can give thanks.
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|If you found this article to be helpful, here are some others that I think will encourage you:|
What Is Worship According to the Bible?
Put on the Whole Armor of God – What it Means & How to Do It
Does God Love Me – How You Can Know for Sure
Thanksgiving Bible Verses
Here are several Thanksgiving Bible Scriptures to stir a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude: (All Scriptures are from the ESV).
1 Thes. 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Psa. 136:1 – Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 100:4 – Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Psalm 118:28 – You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.
1 Corinthians 15:57 – But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
2 Corinthians 2:14 – But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
Psalm 145:10 – All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
Psalm 111:1 – Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Psalm 33:2 – Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
1 Chronicles 16:8 – Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
1 Thessalonians 1:2 – We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.
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