"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!" (1 Chronicles 16:34).Thanksgiving is a time when we, as Americans, pause to reflect on our nation’s history and “give thanks” for a pilgrim people who dared to venture into a strange land, for a native people who had already lived here for centuries, and for a time when they peacefully gathered around a table and enjoyed a common feast. It is a time when we give thanks for a similar feast and family gatherings and football games and a four-day weekend.
And it can also be a time when we pause to reflect on what life could be like if we lived with an attitude of thanksgiving.
So it is that I came to ask myself these questions over the last week: What does the Bible mean when it instructs us to be thankful? Why does the Bible instruct us to be thankful? and What does the Bible instruct us to be thankful for? What follows is the outcome of my study into these questions.What Does the Bible Mean When it Instructs us to be Thankful?
In the original languages of the Bible, there are a couple of key words that are translated “thanks” or “thanksgiving.” The Old Testament Hebrew word is pronounced “yadah” and it essentially means “to confess,” in the sense of recognizing and declaring the truth about something whether good or bad. If we have sinned, we recognize what we have done and “yadah” or confess or declare it openly. Conversely, if we see something good or beautiful or breath-taking in the Word of God or the character of God or the works of God, we “yadah” or confess or declare it openly as well. So, to be thankful is to confess the truth about something with gladness and gratefulness and sincerity—it is to praise the object of our thanks.
The New Testament Greek word for “thanks” is pronounced “eucharisteō,” and it literally means “to offer a good gift.” More generally, it means to be grateful and appreciative for something to the extent that we verbalize our thoughts and feelings—it means to praise the object of our thanks.
So, when the Bible instructs us to be thankful, it is encouraging us to see and savor the glory and greatness and goodness of God, and then to thank and praise Him for what we’ve seen. This leads us to the second question…...which we'll deal with tomorrow, Lord willing!