At Thanksgiving, everyone is thinking about giving thanks. That is good and appropriate. We might bemoan the lack of gratitude in our nation and culture, but at Thanksgiving, most people have at least some inkling of thanks. But are we to simply “be thankful” or is there something more to it?

Greater Godward Gratitude

Be Thankful…for What?

Many families have a tradition on Thanksgiving. While sitting around the table, each member of the family will list something that they are thankful for. You may hear things like this:

  • “I’m so thankful for my husband.”
  • “I’m very thankful for a roof over my head.”
  • “I’m grateful that I’m alive today.”
  • “I’m thankful for all this delicious food.”
  • “I’m thankful that Aunt Jo made her sweet potato casserole this Thanksgiving.”
  • “I’m thankful for my job.”

Be Thankful…to Whom?

We should be thankful. But just being thankful is shortsighted unless we realize who receives the thanks. Obviously, as Christians, we thank God. Often, what is missing at Thanksgiving is not an attitude of gratitude, but rather a godward gratitude.

  • Who arranged events, life circumstances, and personal dispositions to allow the marriage with your husband? Who has kept the marriage together?
  • Who is responsible for allowing you to have a roof over your head?
  • Who gives you your next breath?
  • Who created food, and allowed you to eat it today?
  • Who, ultimately, gave Aunt Jo the ability to make such awesome sweet potato casserole?
  • Who allowed you to have your job?

God is the source, substance, and end of everything that we are, do, have, and enjoy. He is the object of all our thanksgiving. By all means, be grateful this Thanksgiving. And in your full-stomach feeling of gratitude, think about the One who should receive all the thanksgiving.

Be Thankful….this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, you don’t merely need to be more thankful. You need to have greater godward gratitude.

  • Remind yourself who is receiving the thanks. It is God. He alone is worthy of our thanksgiving.
  • Realize that true thankfulness is praise to God (Psalm 92:1). When we thank God, we praise and honor Him for who He is.
  • Thank God through Jesus. Colossians 3:17 instructs us that we should “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. It is because of Jesus that we can be thankful. Thank God, through Jesus—because of what He has done for you.
  • Remind yourself why you need to be grateful. It’s not necessarily because you have a lot of stuff. Rather, it is because of who God is—His character, His work.
  • Thank God always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20). When we say “God’s been good to us,” we typically mean that God has given us nice things. What about the not-so-nice things in life? Thank God. What about the hard times? Thank God.

And when Thanksgiving comes and goes, and when you’re back at work, or back in the humdrum routine of everyday life…thank God. Cultivate the greater godward gratitude that can transform every mundane event into an act of worship.

About The Author

Daniel Threlfall

Daniel Threlfall has been writing church ministry articles for more than 10 years. With his background and training (M.A., M.Div.), Daniel is passionate about inspiring pastors and volunteers in their service to the King. Daniel is devoted to his family, nerdy about SEO, and drinks coffee with no cream or sugar. Learn more about Daniel at his blog and twitter.

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