By: Lev Bure
What does it mean to be thankful? Is it simply to be appreciative and show gratitude for things in our lives, or is there something bigger? I feel as though we can easily become numb to the idea of thankfulness where we might even begin to see it as some kind of cliché. We often have a surface-level view of what it means to be thankful, but its truth is so much deeper. Let’s explore that.
After filtering through a few typical definitions for the word thankful, such as “well pleased” and “expressive of thanks,” one stuck out to me more than the rest: “conscious of benefit received.” The thing is, thankfulness cannot merely come about or exist on its own. Instead, thankfulness is a reaction to something. There is an initial cause, a spark, something given. To be thankful is to be aware and have knowledge of something good that has been received. As believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are called to be thankful always, but the question is: What is the good thing that we have received?
This is the best part. Although we may often feel entitled to so many different things, the reality is, we are sinful, broken, and deserve nothing good. In fact, if we deserve anything, we deserve death and eternity apart from our Creator (Rom. 3:23, 6:23). We are sinners who deserve God’s judgement and eternity separated from Him in hell. This is the reality, but Jesus changed that. Jesus willingly went to the cross, taking upon Himself all sins, wrath, and judgment, and sacrificed Himself in our place. By the perfect and unfathomable grace of God, we have been redeemed, washed white as snow, and given salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the Good News! This is why we are thankful! We are aware and have knowledge that the single greatest gift that has ever been given in the history of all creation— salvation and eternal life in heaven through the atoning work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—has been given to us. It is nothing we could have ever done ourselves, but instead what Christ did for us.
When we realize we have already received the greatest gift we could ever imagine, it becomes clear that everything else in our lives that comes from God is pure blessing. And so, we now ask the question, “How do we practice our thankfulness for what God has done for us?” First, let’s put into practice something I’m sure we have all heard before: Count your blessings. Yes, I know this is cliché, but there is power in it. Be aware of how you’re blessed as “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). On the same note, Ephesians 5:20 tells us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (emphasis added). What would you have today, if all you have is what you thanked God for yesterday? To be constantly reminded of our blessings is to be constantly reminded of the goodness and grace of our heavenly Father. So, let’s count our blessings.
Next, we can practice thankfulness through our action and in the way we live our lives. In his letter to the Church in Rome, Paul urges believers, “In view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…” (Rom. 12:1). As we are instructed to live in a way that honors God, notice why: “In view of God’s mercy.” The motive for action does not initially arrive from anything we did, but instead in response to what God already did for us. In other words, we are pushed to offer ourselves fully to God, not out of a bitter heart, but out of sheer thankfulness for how we have been saved through Jesus Christ. And so, we can show our thankfulness to God through our actions by living in a way that is holy and pleasing to Him.
God is perfect, good, merciful, gracious, loving, and the list goes on. Without doing anything to deserve it (in fact quite the opposite), we have been redeemed of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. So, let’s continue to practice thankfulness, remembering all that God has blessed us with, and praise His name forevermore!
Lev Bure is a Los Angeles native currently living in Napa Valley, California where he runs his family’s business. He is a graduate of Liberty University and has a passion for Biblical and Theological studies. In his free time, he loves to play golf, tennis, and explore nature around him.