Why is gratitude important? Scripture tells us that those who do not glorify God or give thanks become vain in their thinking, and their hearts are darkened, which according to Rom. 1:21, is the first step in a downward spiral of sin. So thankfulness of heart, counting our blessings, is an essential part of our walk with God.
The Greek word used for thanks in this Scripture and many others is eucharisteo. Sound familiar? It’s the same word we use for communion or partaking of the Lord’s table. Gratitude for Christ’s work on the cross is paramount. Indeed, a study of Christ’s own life will show that He was continually giving thanks, which generally led to a breaking of bread and sharing a cup. In other words, a sharing of Himself (Matt. 15:36, Mark 8:6, Luke 22;17-19, John 6:11).
This leads us to the question of how we define gratitude. In a society that has relegated thankfulness to a mere phrase, “Thank you,” we would do well to reexamine our lives and the example of our Lord. While vocalizing our thanks has value, true thanksgiving is reflected in our brokenness – consciously choosing to share our lives and sustenance with others. Take, for instance, Christ’s Parable of the Forgiven Servant. This servant was forgiven much and expressed gratitude in worship to His Lord, but when it came down to his relationships with others, he failed miserably, and for this, he was imprisoned until he paid every cent (Matt. 18:23-35).
As we once again enter this season of holy days, may we reflect on what is essential. Are we grateful in word only, or do our deeds follow our confession? Are we glorifying God and giving thanks His way or our own? Christ’s love for His Father was expressed continuously through giving of thanks and pouring Himself out for others, and if we are to be like Him, our love will be accompanied by a lifestyle of thanksgiving, resulting in our brokenness and being poured.
Thanksgiving is an offering of remembrance of Christ’s love. It’s a tangible expression of our desire to follow in His footsteps, thereby bringing glory to God, and preventing sin from having a foothold in our lives. Yes, we must pass through its gates to access His presence. Ps. 100:4-5 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” NKJV