Three Ways to Give Thanks
There are three possible ways that we can give thanks.
The first is thanking ourselves for what we have achieved in our own strength. This is both superficial because what we have achieved is often meaningless and not from our own effort, and unsustainable because our achievements constantly ebb and flow like the waves. The Pharisee in Luke 18 thanked himself like @kanyewest does today and Jesus responded, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
“God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” -Pharisee (from Luke 18:11-12)
The second is giving God thanks for what we know we could not have achieved without the providence of God. This is something that President Lincoln was staunchly aware of during the Civil War.
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful Providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict… Population has steadily increased … and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” -Abraham Lincoln
Most importantly, we must examine what Jonathan Edwards calls, true gratitude. This only comes from a true understanding of who God is and a love for Him.
“True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness to us, arises from a foundation laid before, of love to God for what he is in himself; whereas a natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation. The gracious stirrings of grateful affection to God, for kindness received, always are from a stock of love already in the heart, established in the first place on other grounds, viz. God’s own excellency.” -Jonathan Edwards
Thanksgiving is an important time to remember to give thanks. I pray that this Thanksgiving, myself and many others will give thanks in the right way and have a true heart of thankfulness for what God has done in our lives and because of who God is.
“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” -Psalm 118:14