For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking.
Don’t you just love it! Its Thanksgiving week! Sure, it’s been a most difficult year, which means that it is all that more important for us to celebrate and to give thanks to God.
The importance of giving thanks is highlighted in the word “thank”, which is etymologically related to its cousin-word, “think”. People who study these things tell us that in the ancient Indo-European-languages the words “thank” and “think” come from the same root word. Wisdom of the centuries says to “thank” makes people “think”. And yes, stopping to “think” always causes people to want to “thank”.
This is seen clearly in today’s scripture in which the apostle Paul comments on the human condition: “For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking.” When people do not honor God or give Him thanks, something happens to their thinking! They become “futile”, empty headed in their thinking.
Psalm 116 is on my mind today as it helps me to know how best to thank God this week. The psalmist asks the week’s all-important question, “What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me?” (v.12). Quick comes the psalmist’s answer: “I will offer to you [God] a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people” (vv. 17-18).
When the psalmist talks about a “thanksgiving sacrifice” he is talking about a sacrifice offered to God and shared as a meal with family and friends. As they ate the meal, the person offering thanksgiving would tell those gathered what God had done for him. This is the meaning of the psalmist’s words “I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.” Thanksgiving for the psalmist could never be silent; thanksgiving has to be expressed to others.
A day set aside for giving thanks is quintessentially North American; our Canadian friends celebrate it on October 15, as their harvest comes earlier. Different people in different places in our United States vie for the honor of the first thanksgiving celebration. There were Spaniards in Saint Augustine, Florida, in 1565; the English in Jamestown in 1610 and in Plymouth Plantation in 1621. Whoever actually did it first, they all knew that eating a meal of thanksgiving was important for celebrating the goodness of God.
It is not so much that the all-sufficient and sovereign God needs to be thanked, but it is we who need to thank Him. Sure, giving thanks does bring a big smile to God, but it is also what it does for us. Giving “thanks” helps us “think” about life and what is really important for the days ahead. And thanking and thinking not just on Thursday, but every day of the year. Thanksgiving is good for us! Really good!
So, I pray for you a good week of thanking and thinking. Why not share your thanking and thinking with others? You will be blessed, and so will they!
A fellow traveler,