In All Things Give Thanks: Biblical Meaning & Power of Thanksgiving

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,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1 (ESV)

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
  • Discontented
  • Anxious
  • Focused only on the negative
  • Jealous or envious of others
  • Holding on to anger or bitterness
Give thanks in all circumstances

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.

God’s steadfast love is fully displayed through Jesus Christ. He laid down His life on the cross to die for the sins of the world. He did this all out of love.

This takes our thanksgiving to a whole other level. 

When we give thanks, it aligns us with God’s goodness, opens us up to receive more from Him, and frees us from anxiety and worry. It carries us through any struggle and hardship in life. It even carries us through persecution and the valley of the shadow of death.

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

Table of Contents

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. Everything in the Christian life is by God’s grace, and so requires faith on our part.

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 response to the revelation of God. As God opens your eyes to see Him as He is, your whole being responds to Him with thanksgiving.

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 is a response to the nature of God. We give thanks because He is good and His love endures forever.

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.

in all things give thanks

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. 

The grace of God compels us to look beyond our own lives and peer into the mystery of the fullness of His love on the cross of Christ.

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 things

Phil 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.

Subscribe to my newsletter for updates and encouraging content.

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.


Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

David Kim

I'm David Kim and the Bible has been a passionate pursuit of mine for many years. This is a site where I get to share with you some of the things that I’ve been learning. I’m a husband, a father, pastor of a Parkway Fellowship Church (Dublin, CA), and a life-long student of the Scriptures.

29 thoughts on “In All Things Give Thanks: Biblical Meaning & Power of Thanksgiving

  1. I was blessed reading this message therefore I shared it with saints, the impact was so amazing. The understanding of thanksgiving changed amongst them and after that we tookntime in prayer to thank God; the Holy Spirit touched the saints it was powerful.
    My brother God bless you for sharing this knowledge withbthe bodybof Christ

    1. Thank you, I’m so grateful to hear how God used this message to encourage the saints. May God bless you and the saints that you lead and serve in the Body of Christ.

  2. Thank you pastor it really helps and very powerful. I am going to preach this coming December 19 a Thanksgiving service here in the Philippines particularly in Mindanao. God bless to your ministry and more power.

  3. Thank you. I’m so grateful to hear that it was helpful. God bless you as you preach at the Thanksgiving service in the Philippines. I pray that God will use you greatly to bring people’s hearts to Himself and reveal the beauty and power of His grace through Jesus Christ!

  4. I like our article on thanksgiving.
    The Bible does say give thanks “for all”things…
    Ephesians 5:20
    Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    1. Yes, there is a sense in which we give thanks for all things. The object of our thanks would not be evil or wicked things, but we can give thanks in all things when we are walking in God’s light.

  5. Thanks giving day is important we want to celebrate this big celebration in nepali churches.
    please help me to send on my mail.

  6. Thanks David for your exposition on thanksgiving. I was studying this topic and bumped onto your article. I think I will share some of your insight with brethren on Sunday. God bless you.

    1. I pray that God will release His grace on you and those you minister to – that He would give you a fresh spirit of thanksgiving. Thank you and God bless you.

    1. I’m so grateful to hear of God’s grace in your life. May He continue to guide you and lead you into the center of His heart.

  7. Thank you so much .am really blessed by this message about thanksgiving.i have read and heard about it but I had never got clear like the way you made it clear.God bless you.

    1. Thank you. And God bless you. May He continue to give you fresh revelation of His heart and will for your life. The Lord is so gracious to us.

  8. Thank you Pastor David for this wonderful revelation of the need to respond to God with a grateful heart toward His works. I was looking for scriptures on thanksgiving when I bumped into this. I am incredibly blessed. Thank you. I am going to use some of your work in our prayer meeting. We’re preparing for Thanksgiving.
    Receive sufficient grace for more insight into the word and ministry. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Pastor Abigail, I’m so grateful to be able to serve and share. I pray that God will bless you and the people you serve and lead with a fresh spirit of thanksgiving.

  9. Servant of God am blessed with this message, may God continue to uphold and helps you, more grace Sir. To God be all the glory forever

    1. Thank you, Pastor. I’m grateful for God’s help and grace. Blessings to you and the people that you lead and serve.

  10. Hi Pastor David Kim,
    I was preparing messages for an invitation for me to speak and due to a lot of ways in getting this subject from the bible it is a normal reaction of having trouble in structuring sermons in both homiletically and hermenuetically while reading the bible and and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance I started searching some ideas instead of looking for a commentaries, and I found you here with your Ideas that aligns in same Docrinal stand ..

    Thank you for this and please allow me to use this outlines and thoughts for all God’s people.
    God bless you .

    1. Hi Glenn, I’m grateful to hear the article was useful. Yes, please feel free to adapt it for your use as you speak – the outline or whatever parts that you find helpful. God bless you – David

  11. Man of God , Thank you for sharing this insightful explanation, i was looking for to go and teach it at my church, may Good God continue to use you and reveal such information to his people, i Thank you again , stay blessed

  12. Good Morning, what a powerful and simplicity message that anyone in Christ can read and understand. I was scrolling through looking for something on Thanksgiving and I came across your article, sermon and I was finished. Your message agreed with my spirit and I received. Thanks for allowing the Holy Spirit to teach through you..To God be the glory.

  13. Pingback: How To Give Thanks In Every Circumstance - Miss Think Up
  14. Pastor Kim
    I was searching for information on gratitude and found little. So I will use thanksgiving instead. This is a powerful message. Thanks for sharing.

  15. God bless you pastor .i have read your message &used it to teach in my congregation in Andhra Pradesh.south INDIA.
    From the depth of my heart 💜❤️ Iwant to thank you pastor David Kim for sharing the word of God .
    May God give you strength.courage. wisdom & bless you abundantly for the extension of the Lord ‘ s Kingdom.
    In Jesus living.mighty.precious name I 🙏 prayer AMEN.
    Glory be to God almighty 👑 King Jesus Christ alone!

    1. I’m grateful to be able to serve and encourage you as you minister and teach your congregation in India. Thank you for your prayers and blessing. I pray that God will continue to increase His insight and authority in your life as you serve His people. Glory to God! And God bless you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts