Why Give Thanks?
TO SOME persons it may seem that there is little reason for giving thanks today. The awful threat of atomic war continues to hang over mankind like a deadly pall, science continues to produce more and more weapons of mass destruction, the Communists persist in shaking the unsteady relations between the East and the West, radioactive fallout from atomic bomb tests threatens the health of mankind, the cost of living continues to soar upward, crime is increasing, and so on. The world presents a bleak picture to the person who wants to live in happiness, peace and security. He may well look at the world with its bad fruits and ask, Why give thanks for this?
But there are other things for which a person can be deeply thankful. He may take them for granted, but they outweigh in value anything that the world can give. Life, for example, is so valuable no price can rightly be put on it, yet it was a free gift from God. Do you callously take it for granted as if he owed it to you? Should not thanks be given to him for it, not just one day a year, but daily?
Do you take for granted the food you eat, thinking that thanks is due to no one because you earned the money that bought it? If you take that view you forget that its existence was made possible by the Creator, not by your money. He gave to man as a free gift the grain that supplies you with bread, cereals and other food products. He also created the vegetables and fruits that man uses for nourishment. He designed them all to reproduce their kind, that man might always have a supply of food. “Here I have given to you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To you let it serve as food.”—Gen. 1:29.
Should a gift such as this, which is so vital to existence, be accepted indifferently day after day with no expression of gratitude to the Giver of it? It is only right that you should give thanks to Jehovah God for the food you eat. This is an expression not only of your appreciation but also of your recognition of him as the actual Giver. The apostle Paul properly points out that the foods you eat should be “partaken of with thanksgiving.” (1 Tim. 4:3) This was always the practice of Christ and his apostles. They never ate a meal without first expressing thanks to God. “So Jesus took the loaves and, after giving thanks, he distributed them to those reclining.” (John 6:11) In the book of Acts the apostle Paul is mentioned as giving thanks before eating: “He also took a loaf, gave thanks to God before them all and broke it and started eating.” (Acts 27:35) Both were grateful to God for his provision for man’s nourishment.
It may be a small thing to give thanks before a meal, but it is the proper thing to do. It is a regular expression of appreciation and recognition that is due God.
When we consider the sun and rain and the many other things in connection with the earth that our lives are dependent upon, we find many reasons for giving thanks to God. To accept all these material gifts from him without giving expressions of appreciation is the height of ingratitude. When a gift of great value is given you by another human, you are undoubtedly deeply moved with gratitude and do not fail to express it. But are you so moved by the superior gifts that come from God, or are you callously indifferent?
Once a year people may set aside a day for thanksgiving, such as the national Thanksgiving holiday observed in America. But even then how many observers of this holiday actually offer thanks to God? Are not their thoughts more on feasting and having a merry time than on the many gifts God has given? Can it be said that thanksgiving is offered to God by indulging in an extra-big meal? Thanksgiving to God does not come from the stomach but from the mind. It is verbally expressed. “I will praise the name of God with song, and I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” (Ps. 69:30) “In everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.”—Phil. 4:6.
Aside from material gifts from God for which man should daily express thanks, there are spiritual gifts that should call forth expressions of gratitude. God has provided us with a written expression of his thoughts, purposes, principles and laws. This book of truth, the Holy Bible, is an invaluable spiritual gift that can guide a man in a way that is for his best interests. It leads to eternal life. But how many people thank God for it, let alone study it?
The ransom sacrifice was an act of God’s undeserved kindness toward mankind so that persons of godly devotion might be freed in due time from human imperfection and the curse of death. It even opened the way for persons who have died to return to life. Surely such a loving provision by man’s Creator is worthy of frequent expressions of thanks. The same can be said of the divine promise to rid the earth of wicked persons and to allow the meek to possess it in peace under the righteous rule of God’s kingdom. “For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth.”—Ps. 37:9-11.
God has lovingly provided for the spiritual nourishment of man through his Word and organization of faithful witnesses. By this means thousands are regularly being delivered from the world’s spiritual famine. In gratitude they are offering to “God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” (Heb. 13:15) His provision to feed the meek of the earth spiritually is further reason for offering him thanks.
Although there is very little offered by the world for which a person may feel inclined to give thanks, there is much offered by Jehovah God for which he can be thankful. Do not be ungrateful by accepting his gifts without gratitude. Manifest appreciation for them by daily expressing thanks.