Thankful. But to Whom?

This time every year, we all feel the need to be thankful. (In Twitter speak, we feel #grateful and #blessed.) Thankful for freedom. Thankful for family. Thankful for employment. Thankful for home. Thankful for special opportunities. Thankful for so many things. But thankful to whom?

As a child, I learned from my parents to say thank you. I also learned to write thank you notes for gifts and special favors. But when I said thank you, was I talking to myself? Definitely not. And when I scrawled out thank you notes for favors, did I pencil the name and address of a recipient on the envelope? Most assuredly yes. Why? Because I was thankful to someone for the blessing I received.

Thanksgiving is more than a feeling that we express. It is a verb that requires an object. I don’t say thank you because I feel thankful. I say thank you because there is someone I should thank – someone who has been good to me. In fact, giving thanks is the right thing to do, whether I feel thankful or not.

Thanksgiving is more than a feeling that we express. It is a verb that requires an object.

So whom do I thank? Thanking parents, children, pastors, teachers, employers, neighbors and friends is an appropriate thing to do whenever they have been good to us. But whom should we thank for these people? And whom should we thank for those things that no person has given?

For instance, I am thankful for the sun, which provides me with light, energy, warmth and nutrients I need to survive. But whom should I thank for this incredible blessing? Romans 1:21 reminds us that we may easily fail to direct our thanksgiving to the right place.

When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations…

We should thank God for the blessings we receive in this world. But when we refuse to acknowledge God, we become unthankful and our thankful thoughts are vain and worthless. Grateful feelings (and hashtags) are as worthless as thank you notes with no address on the envelope. But thankfulness directed to God hits the mark and is thankfulness indeed.

With this in mind, consider what Paul says about true thankfulness in Ephesians 5:20.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So this Thanksgiving season and always, when you give thanks for anything, be sure to give thanks to God, the giver of every good gift (James 1:17).

Here is what A.W. Tozer has to say about this:

It is important that we trace our benefits back to their source and express our thanks to the One “from whom all blessings flow,” rather than merely to feel a vague stirring of gratefulness that results in nothing real…In these last bright brown days of autumn, we will be reminded a hundred times that we have a world of blessings for which we should render thanks. Let’s not withhold our expressions of gratitude. Thankfulness that is put into words has a healing effect upon the soul and has a good effect upon those who hear. But let’s avoid pagan ambiguity. “For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Cor. 8:6).

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