“…pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NIV UK)
Thanksgiving is an annual holiday in the USA. But so often when Americans gather together in the autumn with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings we’ve experienced, the true meaning of giving thanks is lost, lost in the food, football and tv. So this week, I wanted to take a look at what giving thanks actually looks like from a spiritual perspective.
As Christians we’re the adopted children of God through Christ. And our Father in Heaven is continually showering us with his love, grace and mercy. When we open our hearts and accept these perfect gifts, through our relationship with Christ, we enter into a beautiful relational cycle with our Lord—one of giving and receiving—that sanctifies and refines us as Christians.
Now let’s take a look at how that plays out in the scriptures. “On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:11-14).
But that’s not where the story ends. One of the ten lepers, after being declared clean, ran after Jesus, catching up with our Saviour and thanking him. Jesus welcomed the response because this Samaritan alone had completed the circle of relationship by returning to give thanks. This one alone truly received all that Christ had offered to the men. You see, Jesus didn’t just offer the men a physical healing—he wanted to give them a continuing relationship with himself as the mediator of God’s blessings.
What I enjoy about this story is the spotlight that Luke shines on the importance of thanksgiving in a living relationship with God through Christ. The power of thanks can truly never be underestimated. Throughout the year I hope we’ll remember to focus on the mercy and love our Lord has given to us and our neighbours, and know that God welcomes our turning back to him in thanksgiving.
Merciful Father, too often we ask of you but then fail to thank you. In the model prayer (Luke 11:1-4) you began with praise and thanksgiving, and then asked the petition. Help us always to follow those guidelines. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach
About the Author: Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA. You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099. Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org