In Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving long ago, on October 11. At that time I wondered on this site just who it is that people offer their thanks to if they do not believe in God. The verb “thanks” without an appropriate number of prepositions makes little sense. While everyone likes to give thanks for things at Thanksgiving, what has often been lost is the fact that we do not merely give thanks, but give thanks to. Millions of Americans will say today that they are thankful for their families, for their jobs or for the freedoms they enjoy, but who are they thankful to? It seems to me that there is little purpose in being thankful if we do not acknowledge that there is to whom we owe this thanks! Do I thank fate? Do I thank circumstance? Do I thank myself?
I would imagine this poses a problem to those who do not honor God, for they are left thanking no one and nothing. While their thanks may be sincere, for they truly are thankful for their families and freedoms, it simply makes no sense without directing that thanks to God.
James White wrote about this today as well. He says “But the fact is that “thanksgiving” means “the giving of thanks” and when you “give” something you give it to someone identifiable… It is a time for giving thanks to God for His bountiful blessings. The giving of thanks is not only a hallmark of Christian character, but it is a duty incumbent upon all men.” He quotes Romans 1:20-21 which reads “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom. 1:20-21)” All men owe thanks to God.
He concludes with these words: “It is no wonder, then, that giving of thanks is one of the most commonly noted results of regeneration itself: if it is natural for the creature to give thanks (outside the twisted opposition of sin), then it follows when a God-hater is turned to a God-lover, thanksgiving will flow from that redeemed heart. As the Word reminds us:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Phil. 4:6)
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with [an attitude of] thanksgiving; (Col. 4:2)
you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. (2Cor. 9:11)”
So when you take time to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for today, take time also to reflect on the One to whom you owe thanks. The blessings you enjoy, be they family, friends, freedom – all these things are given by God and He deserves your thanksgiving. Give Him what is due Him.