Being thankful is an action and an attitude and it pleases God. In the Bible, we read a great deal about “thanksgiving”, “being thankful”, and “giving thanks”. In the Old Testament, we learn that “thanksgiving” was a “sacrifice” that could be made, as it was part of the peace offering (Leviticus 7:11-18). We may not think of giving thanks as a sacrifice; however, it is an unselfish act in which we are demonstrating our gratitude to God, by recognizing that He is the provider.
Thanksgiving was connected with music and singing, such as at the time of Ezra when the Jewish exiles returned from captivity and laid the foundation of the Temple in Jerusalem. “And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.’” (Ezra 3:10-11)
King David, in one of the Psalms he wrote said, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.” (Psalm 69:30-32)
From this we learn that: thanking God pleases Him; it a characteristic of the humble; it can have the effect of re-energizing a person; and it is an attitude that is more important to God than the act of offering sacrifices (such as was performed under the Law of Moses).
Psalm 100 is, “A Psalm for Giving Thanks”. It tells us that the LORD wants us to be joyful and glad in our service to Him. He wants us to approach Him with singing and give thanks to Him. This is an act and an attitude of humility, recognizing that God made us; it was not our doing. The Psalmist says, “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:1-5)
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul is constantly giving thanks to God for the believers and Paul took courage in their presence. (Acts 28:15; Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy; 1:12; Philemon 4) Despite all the pain, sorrow and hardship the apostle Paul went through to preach the Gospel and establish churches, he was joyful and very thankful to God. He always thanked the believers for the strength they gave him and the generosity they showed Him.
The Lord Jesus constantly gave thanks to his heavenly Father. Jesus prayed to God often and gave thanks to Him: for food and drink; for the message of hope and salvation that was given to the people; and for hearing his prays and requests. Jesus was always concerned for the people. When he performed the miracle of raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, he did not take any glory for himself, but immediately prayed to his heavenly Father, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42)
Being thankful on a regular basis to our heavenly Father and to those we are grateful for, is an attitude our God wants us to have. A thankful person toward God: is humble and acknowledges that God is the creator and provider; is joyful and has singing in their heart; is grateful for those around them and thanks them for their kindness; and a thankful person is selfless. To be truly thankful is an act of selflessness. This was the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ and this is the attitude that please our heavenly Father.