Thanksgiving is not just expressed through words. It also involves action or demonstration. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is quoted saying, “[The] highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” If we say that we are truly thankful to God, it must be visible in how we live our lives. Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action (W. J. Cameron).
Let’s look at verses 15-16 of our Gospel reading.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
This Samaritan did not just say in his heart, “Wow, that guy was amazing!” and then ran off with the other nine men to enjoy the new life of a man made well. Instead he returned to Jesus and thanked him with a loud voice and fell down at His feet, which is a posture of worship. This man understood the significance of what was done for him and his heart overflowed with thanksgiving until he couldn’t contain it anymore and had to lay it all out at Jesus’ feet.
The Art of Thanksgiving[i]
The art of thanksgiving is thanksliving. It is gratitude in action.
It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.
It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.
It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others.
It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy.
It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful.
It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others.
It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and respect you show your body.
Ways of Thanking God
The Bible teaches that there are many ways to give thanks to God. Let’s look at some of them.
We Can Thank God With Words of Thanksgiving.
- Hebrews 13:15 – “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
- Psalm 35:18 – “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.”
We Can Thank God With Songs of Thanksgiving.
- Psalm 147:7 – “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God.”
- Psalm 69:30 – “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
- Ephesians 5:19-20 – “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- It is also interesting that when the people of Israel were about to dedicate the wall of Jerusalem, one of the things Nehemiah did was to appoint “two large thanksgiving choirs” (Neh. 12:31). He assigned these two groups to continually give thanks to the Lord.
We Can Thank God by Giving Back to Him.
Many times in the Bible thanksgiving and giving unto are God are linked together. Let’s look at some examples.
- Thank Offering – Leviticus 7:11-14 (peace offering with unleavened cakes, wafers, and bread); Leviticus 10:15 (thigh of the heave offering and breast of the wave offering); 2 Chronicles 29:31 (King Hezekiah said, “come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord”); Psalm 50:14 (sacrifice thank offerings to God); Psalm 116:17 (I will sacrifice to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving).
- Offering of First Fruits – Deuteronomy 26:1-11 records how the offering of first fruits must be offered; (v.2) put first produce in a basket and bring it to the Tabernacle, (v.5) declare before the priest that God had made them into a mighty nation, (vv.6-8) delivered them from Egyptian bondage, (v. 8) and had given them a good land, flowing with milk and honey. Then the basket of first fruits was placed on the altar, and given to God in thanksgiving to Him. And the Israelite was to worship and rejoice before the Lord.
- Proportionate Giving – The amount of our giving to God should be based on how much God has given to us (Dt. 16:17). 1 Corinthians 16:2 clearly conveys the New Testament’s teaching on proportionate giving. Paul wrote, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (emphasis added; the NIV translates it as “in keeping with his income”). Tithe is also an example of proportionate giving. Generally, God did not require the people to give the same amount. Instead, they were to give the same percentage, which was 10% of all that God had blessed them with. The more God gave them, the more they were to return to God in the form of a tithe.
The Bible also teaches that whatever offering we bring to God must be offered out of our own free will (Lev. 22:29). To be acceptable to God, thanksgiving must be offered freely and willingly. God wants our thanksgiving to be freely expressed from the heart. That’s why 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (emphasis added). And the good thing about giving back to God as a form of thanksgiving is that it results into further thanksgiving to God (2 Cor. 9:11-12).
How about you? How do you demonstrate your gratitude to God? Is your gratitude evident in your actions? Or is it just confined in your words? I challenge you to show God that you are thankful and not just utter it with words.
[i] PC Study Bible 5 Library Illustrations.