How Do You Give Thanks?
GIVING thanks to God is one of the recurring themes of the Bible. The inspired penmen often express the idea of “giving thanks” to Jehovah at the mention of his holy name. It seems like such an ordinary thing to do, to express gratitude for benefits received. But is that all there is to the matter of giving thanks?
It is what is in the heart that really counts, and the heart originates both words and deeds. It follows, then, that the “thank you” of genuine gratitude should be backed up by deeds that are in full harmony with the vocal expression. But then, what about a situation wherein some complete stranger has obliged you in some manner? You thank him, but lose track of him. How can your spoken thanks be proved genuine? By seeking to do similar acts of kindness to others in need, even though strangers to you. Genuine thanks should be accompanied by a deep desire to demonstrate gratitude in action.
DAVID A FINE EXAMPLE
Consider King David of Israel. His giving of thanks to God was not limited to the beautiful vocal expressions that abound in the Bible book of Psalms. It went much farther. David did strive, despite the influences of the fallen flesh, to deal with others in the same merciful way that God did with him. That was a fine way of expressing his gratitude too. Just as God was slow to anger and magnanimous in his dealings, David in his maturer years refused to get heated up over wrongdoers and enemies. He was truly a man ‘agreeable to God’s own heart.’ His thanksgiving to Jehovah was from the heart.—1 Sam. 13:14.
In another practical way, too, David proved his thankfulness to be free from hypocrisy or pretense. The deeply felt gratitude that welled up in his heart sought ways and means of expressing itself. Gladly he expended generous contributions from his treasury for application to the glorious holy house that was to be constructed by his son Solomon. Not content to make the vast donations of gold, silver, copper and iron from the state treasury, he is recorded as declaring: “Since I am taking pleasure in the house of my God, there is yet a special property of mine, gold and silver; I do give it to the house of my God over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house: three thousand talents of gold of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for coating the walls of the houses.”—1 Chron. 29:3, 4.
Of course, we cannot all give to the interest of true worship vast quantities of valuable things as did David. But we can prove the genuineness of our “giving thanks” by striving to adopt toward others the same merciful attitude that Jehovah has shown toward us. Perhaps, too, we can back up our oral thanksgiving by modest contributions to the interests of the Kingdom in the measure that God has prospered us. But how? There are a number of ways this can be done, and it is not necessary to be wealthy in order to carry them out.
OTHER WAYS OF SAYING “THANK YOU”
It may be that you have attended meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses at one time or another. Were you glad that there are such comfortable, clean places where people can assemble for congregation discussion of the Bible? Did you know that it was just such gladness coupled with gratitude that moved people like yourself to provide these Kingdom Halls out of their limited means? Now you and others who attend meetings in such halls have the opportunity to manifest the same practical gratitude by sharing, if you can, the upkeep of these structures. Had you thought of this as a fine way of expressing thanks?
But no collection plate was passed around, you noticed. That is true, but there is doubtless a small and inconspicuous box for contributions for the convenience of those who want to say “thank you” in this manner. There is never any soliciting of funds. Jehovah provides for his work to be accomplished throughout the earth by, among other things, the unsolicited gifts of individual worshipers. If you are moved to put a contribution in the box from time to time, it is because gratitude to God moves you, and nobody else knows either the identity of the donor or the amount donated.
At times it may happen that an appreciative person may hold back from making a contribution because he feels that what he has to offer is so little. But that should not be allowed to stifle the urge to express thanks, for no amount is too small. The work of the Lord in these “last days” is supported not so much by the generosity of the wealthy as it is by the many small contributions made by those of modest means. Remember the poor widow who contributed “two small coins” of very little value? Jesus commended her self-denying, practical expression of gratitude.—Mark 12:42-44.
As you read The Watchtower issue by issue, its making plain so many difficult questions has probably caused you to marvel. How, you may wonder, is it possible to keep supplying these magazines? Then you learn that all this is possible because Jehovah God has his “faithful and discreet slave” class busy on earth in these days and has commissioned them to dispense this spiritual “food at the proper time” to the whole household of those who love God. (Matt. 24:45-47) How thankful to God we can be that he has made such loving provision!
That same “faithful and discreet slave” appoints mature men to care for the congregations of God’s servants in 197 lands and islands of the sea. It sends out mature men as traveling representatives to aid the congregations to function in accord with God’s will. It organizes on a local, regional, national and international basis assemblies for the encouragement and upbuilding of lovers of righteousness. It maintains missionaries and special pioneer ministers in many countries of the world. But how is all this activity financed? By modest contributions of grateful persons who send the tokens of their appreciation direct to the office of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in the country in which they reside. In the United States this is at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201.
Another way of giving deeper meaning to our thanksgiving to God is in offering ourselves for work that must be done in connection with the worldwide promotion of true worship. Jesus foretold concerning this very time in which we live that “in all the nations the good news has to be preached first” before the end of this doomed system of things comes. (Mark 13:10) Do you or can you offer yourself as one who, in appreciation, will share in that preaching service?
Then there is work to be done with the hands, cleaning and maintenance work, for upkeep of the Kingdom Halls. At assemblies there are departments to be manned by volunteers. During recent months a goodly number of Witnesses responded to an invitation to aid in construction work at one of the Watchtower Society’s farms in New York state. They gladly denied themselves lucrative work elsewhere in order to do this. They know that the farm will produce much of the food for the members of the headquarters Bethel family in New York.
Young children, too, can be trained to thank their parents and Jehovah with sincerity. By example parents can teach children to be appreciative. In fact, we know of some very young children who, out of their own small allowance, insist on making their own personal contributions for advancement of the Kingdom work. We can be sure that such manifestations of sincere thanksgiving do not go unnoticed by the loving God who is the giver of every good gift and perfect present.—Jas. 1:17.
PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING
Prayer both before and after our meals is another opportunity to express gratitude to Jehovah. But is it not obvious that such prayer would have little meaning if there was complaint or discontent about the food served? Likewise at the spiritual meals, Bible discussions, where we partake of the wisdom from God’s Word, there is need for us to give close and eager attention so that our actions may be in fullest harmony with our prayer for God’s direction of the meeting. “Be persevering in prayer,” urges the apostle Paul, “remaining awake in it with thanksgiving.”—Col. 4:2.
So, there are various ways that are open for appreciative Christians to back up their verbal giving of thanks to Jehovah for all his kindnesses. It is evident that the one who offers oral thanks that are genuine finds himself moved to give proof of that sincerity by doing something. He does not adopt the attitude expressed in the words: “If I had a million dollars I would make a large donation for the work of the Lord.” Rather, he says: “Is there anything I can offer as a token of my heartfelt appreciation for Jehovah’s loving provisions?”
God will prosper those who are thankful at heart, who back up their thanksgiving by a generous giving of themselves and their means for good work. Note these inspired words of counsel and promise, for example: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. God, moreover, is able to make all his undeserved kindness abound toward you, that . . . you may have plenty for every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:7, 8) It is beneficial to examine ourselves on this matter.