Why Does the Bible Instruct us to be Thankful?
Second Corinthians 4:15 perfectly summarizes the answer to this question: “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” In other words, all of the good gifts and graces of God are given to us for our benefit and satisfaction and joy, so that we may thank and praise Him for who He is and what He does, so that He will be greatly glorified among all peoples! The Bible instructs us to be thankful because God wants us to have great joy in Him and to greatly glorify Him by speaking of that joy.
Now, this gives rise to two other questions, namely, How do thanksgiving and joy relate to one another? and How does joy produce glory for God? First, thanksgiving, when it is earnest, is simply a response to finding benefit and satisfaction and joy in something or someone. When I thank my wife Kim for doing something for me, it’s not because I’m obligated to do so—it’s because I find so much joy in the fact that she wants to do life with me and treat me kindly and do nice things for me. I thank her, both privately and publicly, because I take great joy in doing life with her!
Likewise, when we see something of the glory or greatness or goodness of God in our lives, we thank Him because we take so much joy in the fact that He is God and that He loves us and that He took the time to reveal things about Himself to us. We thank Him, both privately and publicly, because we take great joy in doing life with Him!
So, to reiterate, thanksgiving, when it is earnest, is simply a response to finding benefit and satisfaction and joy in something or someone.
It should be obvious, then, how our joy produces glory for God. As we delight in Him to the extent that our hearts overflow with thanksgiving and we speak of our delight in the presence of others, the praise and honor goes to God. One day a family member of mine commented, “I’m so impressed with how you’ve turned your life around.” To which I joyfully responded, “I appreciate that, but I didn’t do it—Jesus did.” I wasn’t trying to one up her or anything of the sort, I was simply speaking the truth with joy, and it gave glory to God.