It has often been pointed out that thinking precedes thanking. When we are presented with a gift, it is because we think of its significance and meaning that we are led to express out appreciation.
What, then, are the thoughts that, entertained by the Christian, lead to thanksgiving?
Somewhere in out thinking there should be thoughts of God. Perhaps we should start there. God – what a train of thoughts should be started when we think of Him! Power, wisdom, goodness, grace, love, care: there are just some of the thoughts that cluster around the word God.
When Paul traces the downward path of mankind, he begins by saying that men, “when they knew God, … glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful” (Romans 1:21). Men were not thankful that they had revelation of God; indeed, they sought to suppress that knowledge and to evade its power.
In addition to thoughts of God, there should be thoughts of ourselves. We should see out own insignificance in the light of the facts we know about God. We should see and confess our own frailty and failures. We should admit out commitment to earthly things. But we should not stop there. We should think thoughts about our privileges in Christ. God has loved us and made us significant, through sending His Son to die for us. The Father has accepted us in the Beloved Son.
In the light of theses thoughts, we should be led to think of out responsibilities. We are now responsible to live for God’s glory. Redeemed, we should seek to serve Him faithfully. We should recognize our lips there should come a daily song of praise.
Why is it, then, that we are not more thankful? The truth probably is that we don’t stop to think. The cares and riches and pleasures of this life choke the plant of gratitude, and our lives become unfruitful.
Thanksgiving is thus really the product of careful cultivation. It is the fruit of a deliberate resolve to think about God, ourselves, and our privileges and responsibilities. By giving thanks we make manifest the fact that our lives are not controlled by the imperious cares and concerns of this life. We give testimony to the fact that material things do not dictate the horizons of out soul.