“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:15
This month the Church of God in the earth will be reminded of one of her duties, but more beautifully and significantly of one of her sacred privileges and joys, and that in the same instance, by focusing special attention on the aspect of her spiritual life called thanksgiving. At least, we may say, this will be done in a special manner by the saints as they find themselves here in the Unites States of America. The children of God will emphasize this aspect of their life in a particular way on November 25, 1965, the date which has been designated officially as Thanksgiving Day for this year.
You will notice, perhaps, that we have asserted, thrice thus far, that it is only the children of God who will and do give thanks. We believe that this is pointedly the teaching of the Word of God, and that there are no exceptions to this in all the history of the world. In which case, we consider here the nature of our giving thanks as an exclusive reality.
What is the giving of thanks first of all? It may be described as a spiritual activity of the saint, which is certainly is. That is the actual rendering of the thanks. The ascribing of praise and blessedness to God. It is He, after all, who must receive all thanks! That aspect, we say, is certainly involved. However, it is not central, although it is quite impossible to separate it from that which is central. The essence of the heart, my dear young reader, is central, and the heart, as you know, manifests itself in expression. The point here then is that the heart of man by nature cannot, will not, and does not give praise, give thanks, nor bless any other being than itself. It is enmity against God, and not subject to Him or His laws.
The child of God, on the other hand, can and wills to and does ascribe all praise and blessedness to Jehovah his God. That that reality exists is indeed a wonder, for we are of one mind when we confess that all of humanity by nature are Adam’s sinful sons.
If we consider the why of giving thanks, we see that Scripture certainly goes beyond the answer that we do so because God has commanded it. His purpose is that through the loving adoration of His elected, redeemed children, He will glorify Himself, He will magnify His Name! But we do well to see that He draws such praise from His saints by and through the incomprehensibly glorious way of saving them from sin, its misery, from death! God determined that way, youth of God. And when you experience that work, the core of your heart will be a well-spring of praise, thanks and glory. Notice the text above, the chapter of which begins with the powerful premise: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above…”; it continues with “… Christ, who is our life…”; and “ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him who created him…” You see, there has been wrought by God a complete change in our hearts! And that change is that we see and confess that we were heretofore, and also that in that heart has been placed beauteous praises of glorification and thankfulness to the Lord our God, for all that He is and for all that He has done. What a change!
We said that the praise or thanksgiving is not just something that is commanded. Concerning that further, we ought to realize that in the dispensation of grace, the prescribed conduct of the saint if forthcoming as the spontaneous love of heart, which at once is the implantation of God. It is no longer the same as the fearful and dreading obedience of the Old Testament as under the law and without the reality of the Christ Who fulfilled all its precepts. That law said: “Do this and thou shalt live.” But the law continually cursed the best of their deeds. The law of love and liberty according to grace says: “My child, because you live, this you will surely do!”
You say, according to the testimony of the Spirit in your heart, that you are a child of God? You say, according to that same testimony, that Christ died that shameful death on the cross in your behalf, and that in and through it you are redeemed? You say that in your heart you experience the “peace of God”?
Then you will indeed give thanks! The eyes of the faithful ones who are thus disposed acknowledge the wisdom of all the ways wherein it pleases our Lord to lead us, whether in health or sickness, prosperity or want, tranquility or controversy; in any way in which He leads, we know and believe its wisdom, and we give thanks, yea we shall give thanks to the endless praise of His blessed Name!
And as to the source of that thanksgiving, let us not presume that we add to the glory of our God, shall we? The concluding lines in a hymn we heard once phrase it rather fittingly we believe, concerning that very question:
“Thine were the songs, no gift of mine.
Thou gavest them me.
I but return Thee what is and ever shall be Thine!”
Do you give thanks this Thanksgiving Day season?