Throughout scripture we see some amazing examples of faithful gratitude from both men and women. Gratitude is an often overlooked quality, and when looking at these wonderful examples it is easy to feel like their gratitude is extraordinary and unrealistic. God calls on us, though, to express and display gratefulness to Him in all things and we are told that through Christ all things are possible. In order to be filled with extraordinary gratitude for Him we must cling to Him, recognizing His works, and remember He is God, He is in control, and He keeps His promises. We have a God who provides all He knows that we need, even going so far as to send His Son to die so that we may be forgiven of our sins and saved from eternal separation from Him. From this massive act He has done for us all the way down to the very breath we breathe and the beat of our hearts, we have so much to be grateful to Him for.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 ESV
What is biblical gratitude?
Zondervan’s Bible Dictionary defines gratitude as the “condition or quality of being grateful; an emotion or sentiment of thankfulness.” It then goes on to explain that nothing “more adequately recalls the nature of biblical faith than gratitude or thanksgiving.” In our study on Faithful Women we dove into what biblical faith looks like (read more), and many examples of faithfulness in scripture. When we look at the Hebrew words, yadah (Strong’s H3034) which translates “to praise” and “to confess” and towdah (Strong’s H8426) which translates to “thanksgiving”, we can dive into the true nature of biblical thanksgiving, why we need it, and how it relates to our faith.
And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing. Genesis 29:35 ESV
“For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing praises to your name. 2 Samuel 22:50 ESV
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 1 Chronicles 16:8 ESV
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:12 ESV
Throughout the Old Testament we see constant themes of thanksgiving, such as David, Daniel, Solomon and Hezekiah all giving thanks and praising the Lord in varying circumstances, as well as Israel’s gratitude to God. They set an incredible example for us that no matter what we face in life God is worthy of praising, thanking, and worshiping. There are a multitude of reasons to be grateful to God and there is no shortage of examples throughout the New Testament as well.
Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 1 Corinthians 14:16 ESV
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5 ESV
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision. Daniel 9:20-23 ESV
Why should we be grateful to God?
God is the reason we have life, and He provides everything that we have, down to the very molecules we are made of, the air we breath, the blood in our veins. He wakes us up in the morning, makes us sleep at night, and carries us through every day’s events. He provides what He knows is needed, right, and good even before we know we need it or when we have no idea what we really need. We should be thankful for His works, provisions, as well as for who He is to us.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16 ESV
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 ESV
Not only are we commanded to praise and thank God, but it is pleasing to Him when we do so. Pleasing God who does so much to care for us is the least we can do as a sign of appreciation for the magnitude of His presence in our lives. We also see Christ set the example for us, the Son of God Himself praying to God the Father, thanking Him, praising Him , worshiping Him and if Jesus is praising God, how much more should we?
It is good to give thanks to the Lord , to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord , have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. Psalm 92:1-4 ESV
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:14-15 ESV
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7 ESV
Christ sets an amazing example for us in that even as the Son of God, God in the flesh, He gave thanks to God the Father in daily things as well as in extreme circumstances. He also commanded His followers to likewise give thanks. He exemplifies how to graciously lift thanks for our Heavenly Father in all things.
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. Matthew 11:25-26 ESV
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:26-29
Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. John 6:11 ESV
We even see that the creatures in Heaven worship and praise God, and that we, too, will praise Him in eternity with full and grateful hearts. This is the hope to come, that we will get to rest in His eternal presence and express our love and gratitude for all He has and will do for us in life and after. Again, if even the creatures of Heaven praise God, how much more should we?
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:8-11 ESV
What should we be grateful for?
Sometimes it is difficult to see what we have to be grateful for in the first place. This season we are all in is a great example of that. Our world, nation, communities and households are filled with uncertainties, stress and anxiety, sickness, danger, hostility and a growing sense of anarchy. No matter which way you look at it, the world is getting very dark and that can feel awfully suffocating. We are in a time that feels like there is less and less to be grateful for, but honestly there is even more to be grateful for. We have an opportunity to be reminded of where our trust should rest, where our hope comes from, and who promises to provide and protect.
Praise the Lord ! Oh give thanks to the Lord , for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1 ESV
God is always good, merciful and filled with grace. It is through His goodness, mercy and grace that we are here and have the gift and opportunity to come to Him and be saved by the blood of Jesus. Christ died to bring us into a true salvation relationship with God so that we could be saved from the fate of eternal separation from God, and therefore eternal separation from all that is good and love. Our faith in the Lord is made firm through our acceptance of the blood of Jesus that was spilled for us. We then get to receive the Holy Spirit as a guide in this life in order to become more like Christ, and bring others into a saving faith relationship with Him as well to share in these many gifts and blessings.
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 ESV
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. Revelation 11:17 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV
Not only did God offer a perfect and unimaginable means for us to come into relationship with Him, but He then includes us in His plans to bring others into this relationship with Him as well. He chooses to use sinners like us for His perfect plan. We are called to share His truth, love and light throughout the world to penetrate the growing sense of darkness that is running rampant. He is unfathomably generous and merciful toward us and calls on us to be generous with others in the sharing of blessings we receive, as well as the truth, light and love He instills in us to display our gratitude for Him. God literally provides everything we have, and does so that we may be generous with those He places in our lives as an act of praise and worship to Him. This is not just material or financial provisions, but spiritual, mental, and physical as well. He knows all of our needs even better than we do. He has our whole future laid out before us, goes before us, and prepares the way for us. He has already solved all the problems and we are just catching up to Him. That is absolutely worth praising! We don’t have to worry because He is in control and is holding it all in His hands, working it all out for the good of those who love Him. Gratitude doesn’t even touch what we should feel and express in response to this level of provision.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV
The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. Romans 14:6-7 ESV
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 ESV
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Matthew 6:31-32 ESV
God calls on us to serve Him by serving people. He grants us with wisdom, strength and anything else we need in order to serve Him in the ways He calls each of us to. He appoints and trains up leaders, and puts each member of the Body of Christ in its place, creating balance and unity so that each part is doing their equally vital role, strengthening and adding to His Kingdom. The fact He uses us to serve Him is mind-blowing but so worthy of praise. He chooses to use those who are not even worthy of the salvation He made such sacrifice to provide in order to bring more people into that same salvation relationship.
To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.” Daniel 2:23 ESV
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 ESV
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 ESV
We have so much to be thankful for, and so many incredible examples of faithful gratitude throughout God’s Word. Expressing gratitude in all circumstances is an essential part of growing faith in Him. As we grow in gratitude we develop into the character of the Bride of Christ God calls on us to become (read more).
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:7-9 ESV
giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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. 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. Colossians 3:12-17 ESV
God does not call on us to work at it alone, but provides His Holy Spirit to guide us, change us, and fill us up with His fruit and produce the heart He longs for us to have toward Him as well as toward all of His creation and plan. We certainly don’t always know what is ahead, but we can rest assured and be grateful that He is working ahead of us, He is in control, and He is always good and trustworthy.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26 ESV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV