Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most
High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.”
Psalm 92: 1, 2
THE WORD thankful may be defined as: (1) being aware of, and appreciative of a benefit that
has been received; and (2) being expressive of thanks or gratitude. Thankfulness may be defined
as being full of thanks. Thankfulness consists of two parts: (1) inner, which expresses itself in
one’s thoughts and motives; and (2) outer, which expresses itself in one’s words and deeds. To
have a proper thankfulness, both inner and outer thankfulness must be present.
We can undoubtedly identify many causes to be thankful to our fellow man – parents, teachers,
employers, public officials, friends, neighbors, strangers, etc. But Those who are the most
deserving, and who should receive the highest expressions of our thankfulness is God and Christ,
whose benefits to us are great and innumerable (Psalm 68: 19).
The Opposite of Thankfulness
The opposite of thankfulness is thanklessness, defined as not feeling or expressing gratitude.
Ingratitude is as inexcusable as gratitude is admirable. In ancient Athens, if a slave was freed, he
could be convicted of ingratitude toward his liberator and sent back into slavery. Ingratitude is
prevalent in our world today. St. Paul prophesied that “in the last days” men shall be
“unthankful” (2 Timothy 3: 1, 2).
Thankfulness to God and Christ is a prominent feature of piety, which is defined as the thankful
good will, based on right, that we owe to God and Christ with all the heart, mind, soul and
strength for the good They have done for us (Mark 12: 30). Piety is also the prerequisite to
brotherly love (love to one’s neighbor as to oneself) and unselfish love (2 Peter 1: 7).
Faith, the Foundation of Piety
The foundation of piety is faith. Our Lord was continually giving lessons of faith to His
disciples. When they exercised faith, He commended them, and when He witnessed its lack, He
reproved them. Note the time when our Lord and His Apostles were out to sea in a ship. A great
storm came up, but Jesus was asleep, so His disciples awakened Him, saying, “Lord, save us: we
perish.” And He said unto them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8: 25, 26).
There was also the occasion when Jesus’ disciples were unable to cast a devil out of a man’s son.
After Jesus cast out the devil His disciples asked, “Why could not we cast him out?” Jesus
replied, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of
mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall
remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17: 19, 20).
Our Lord’s Remarkable Lesson
Toward the close of our Lord’s ministry, He impressed upon, and His disciples recognized, their
need for more faith. They even came to Him and said, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17: 5). Our
Lord first instructed them (Luke 17: 6-10), and then He gave them a practical demonstration
(Luke 17: 11-19). Let us consider the latter. Our Lord’s fame was now widespread, so when He
entered a village, ten lepers met Him. They normally appealed for money, but in this instance
they longed for healing.
Leprosy is a dreadful disease, in which the flesh becomes eaten up. Lepers were forbidden
contact with others, including their own families. If they entered a city they were beaten with a
rod 39 times as a penalty; and if a stranger approached them, they were obliged to call out,
“Unclean! Unclean!” Lepers were completely dependent upon the charity of friends or the
public. The disease was virtually incurable, except by a miracle, but in the rare case of a cure,
the leper was required to present himself to the priest, who would judge the case, and only if he
determined and declared a cure could the leper reenter society.
Jesus had compassion on the lepers and instructed them to show themselves to the priests. The
lepers complied with Jesus’ request, but they had not gone far when they observed that the
leprosy had not only stopped, but that they had been made whole. They hastened joyfully to the
priests, but one of them slowed up, turned back and glorified God. He then fell at Jesus’ feet and
gave Him thanks. Jesus, noting that he was a Samaritan and not of the Jewish household of faith,
said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” Then He said unto him, “Arise, go
thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” The disciples’ faith was undoubtedly increased by this
God’s Arrangement for Mankind Illustrated
Luke 17: 11-19 also illustrates on a grander scale great truths. Leprosy fittingly pictures Adamic
sin, which Father Adam and all his descendants have suffered from. Adamic sin is incurable,
except for the arrangement that God has made for the human family through our Lord Jesus. The
lepers picture mankind under Adamic condemnation. Their crying for mercy picture the first step
of faith, described in Hebrews 11: 6: “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he
is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The lepers going to the priests to be declared as
cleansed picture those who accept Jesus as Savior, a further step of faith, which grants
forgiveness of sins, the desire to live a righteous life, and fellowship, friendship and peace with
God. The leper who glorified God, fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him, picture those who go on
to consecrate their lives to God, a relatively small number.
But consecration to God is only the beginning. Our thankfulness to God as the Source, and our
Lord Jesus as the Agent of all our blessings must grow. Psalm 116: 12 reads, “What shall I
render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” When we compare the little human all
that we have consecrated to God with all the benefits we have received, and hope yet to receive,
our gratitude toward God and Christ should multiply. On one occasion St. Peter addressed our
Lord, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” Jesus
answered in part, “An hundredfold [in this life], and shall inherit everlasting life.”
(Matthew 19: 27-29).
What did our Lord mean by the hundredfold? Although He has not promised His consecrated
people material blessings in this life, He has promised something far more valuable – spiritual
blessings. Some of these include greater enlightenment and appreciation of God’s Word and
Plan; opportunities to serve and spread His Word; opportunities to grow in all the graces of
Christian character; greater privileges of prayer; chastisements, tests and persecutions to prove
our loyalty to Him; and victory over our enemies – sin, error, selfishness, worldliness, etc. And
by proving faithful to the Lord, we have the promise of everlasting life in perfection, and all of
its glorious blessings.
Serving God with Sincerity
Psalm 107: 1 reads, “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for
ever.” The Hebrew word for “thanks” in this passage is yadah, which means to revere or worship
with extended hands. Though some of our Christian friends take this literally, the deeper
meaning is to worship God in the sense of serving Him by furthering His cause. Our Lord stated,
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4: 24).
One way to thank God is through prayer. Colossians 4: 2 reads, “Continue in prayer, and watch
in the same with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving is one of the seven elements of prayer, and it
should occupy an increasingly greater part of our prayers as we grow in Christlikeness. We can
even say that the degree of our sincere thankfulness to the Lord in prayer is a barometer of the
health of our spiritual lives. Ephesians 5: 20 describes the ideal condition: “Giving thanks
always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Blessings of Thankfulness
Our possession and expression of thankfulness brings many blessings: (1) it blesses ourselves,
for it makes every trial and sacrifice in the Lord’s service seem small and easy to be offered; and
it makes God’s mercies and favors toward us grand, great and inspiring; (2) it edifies and
encourages others who witness our thankfulness; and (3) it blesses God and Christ, for They are
pleased with those who appreciate Their goodness; who meditate upon Their favors and make
acknowledgment of Them; who seek to show forth Their praise; and who by faith are trusting
Them even where they cannot trace Them.
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