By Tim Sullivan


It seems that every day, I gather new evidence from my own life to support the declaration of Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am!” The human condition is truly vile. No matter how much God has blessed us, our recognition of that blessing is soon blotted out with fresh thoughts of desire. Our insatiability cries out like a raging fire, “It is not enough. Give me more.”

Proverbs 30:15-16:
The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:
16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.

Even with careful watch over our thoughts, the best we can manage is to not forget all he’s done for us.

Psalm 103:2:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

No matter our situation in life, our natural tendency is to find cause for complaint. We complain about the summer heat and long for cooler weather. Once winter comes, we complain about the cold. We complain about loneliness, and then we complain about the people in our lives. Have you ever noticed that the more unthankful we are for others, the more thankful we expect them to be for us? Feeling unappreciated begins with being unappreciative of others. How wretched indeed!

To those who know God (even if they only know him by his creation), there is no excuse for ingratitude.

Romans 1:20-21:
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Ingratitude brews in our vain imagination, darkening our heart. The only cure for these vain thoughts is to cast them down.

2 Corinthians 10:5:
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Our worries and fears are high things that exalt themselves against our knowledge of God. When we submit to these wayward thoughts, we grow uneasy, and unthankful. Such thoughts must be brought down.

Philippians 4:6:
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

The Word of God is, “Be ye thankful.” This is not a request; this is a command. It is the will of God concerning you.

Colossians 3:15:
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18:
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

You cannot turn on or turn off your emotions. The best you can do is to hide them from others. But thankfulness is not an emotion. It is a state of awareness and understanding. The commandment to be thankful is fulfilled when we bear certain truths in heart and mind. In the Old Testament, the Israelites pictured this by wearing “frontlets,” small leather boxes containing quotations from the Scriptures, one of which is strapped to the forehead and the other to the left arm.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

New Testament believers are also to wear these truths etched upon their heart.

2 Corinthians 3:3:
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

Inevitably, “the things which are seen” will deter our thanksgiving, and cause us to grow discouraged. Christian thankfulness stems from “the things which are not seen.”

2 Corinthians 4:18:
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Unlike our daily circumstance, the unseen things of God are eternal, unwavering and stedfast. Because of these things we have reason to be thankful regardless of our temporal situation. We are thankful because God is good.

Ezra 3:11a:
And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel....

We are thankful because God made us able to share the inheritance of the saints.

Colossians 1:12:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

In faith, we give thanks for all things, and for all men.

Ephesians 5:20:
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

1 Timothy 2:1:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

We can give thanks for all things because we have assurance that, no matter what it looks like to us, all things shall work out for our good.

Romans 8:28:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Living with thanksgiving in your heart brings you closer to God. We come before his presence with thanksgiving.

Psalm 95:2:
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

We enter into his gates with thanksgiving.

Psalm 100:4:
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

We magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:30:
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving and Giving of Thanks

Thanksgiving is more than a verbal expression of gratitude. True thanksgiving is made manifest by works. Thanksgiving is giving because you are thankful. We give because of what we have already received. Tithing is a response, not a catalyst.

Some Christians have been taught to “share of their abundance.” This is a very shallow interpretation of giving. Such a person will give only after he himself is satiated; and as we have already seen, the human condition is to always feel in need. Sharing is not giving. You share from your surplus, what you yourself do not need. Giving is a sacrifice, esteeming the other’s needs more needful than your own. True giving requires sacrifice. “In lowliness of mind,” says Philippians 2:3, “let each esteem other better than themselves.” That is why the Word of God speaks of the sacrifice of thanksgiving. If it costs you nothing, it is not a sacrifice.

Psalm 107:22:
And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

Psalm 116:17-18:
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,

There is an undeniable correlation between the sacrifice of thanksgiving and the paying of vows.

Psalm 50:14:
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

Jonah 2:9:
But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

Still, the measure of your sacrifice must be dictated by your own conscience.

Leviticus 22:29:
And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.

2 Corinthians 9:7:
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

James said that the profession of faith without works is like a lifeless corpse. “For as the body without the spirit is dead,” he said, “so faith without works is dead also” (Jms. 2:26). “I will shew thee my faith by my works,” he said (v. 18). One can hardly call himself a believer if he is not thankful. Just the same, one can hardly be thankful if he does not make the sacrifice of giving.

When we are established in the faith, we will abound in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:7:
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

As Paul said, “See that ye abound in this grace also,” that you may “prove the sincerity of your love.”

2 Corinthians 8:7-9:
Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.



From the January 2008 issue of The Vine & Branches