Gratitude is a vital part of the life of God’s people. To celebrate the holiday, here’s a quick tour of what the Bible says about gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!
In the Old Testament
Gratitude was key to ceremonies and customs. Gratitude was expressed in thank offerings acknowledging God’s blessings:
“And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.” Leviticus 22:29
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:14–15
Gratitude was expressed in shouts of joy and songs of praise:
“These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.” Psalm 42:4
“They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.” Psalm 145:7
Gratitude was expressed in feasts and festivals:
“You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.” Deuteronomy 16:9–15
In the New Testament
Gratitude for the love of God is expressed in the redemptive work of Jesus and the ability to share the good news of the gospel:
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service.” 1 Timothy 1:12
The Apostle Paul encouraged believers to give thanks in all things:
“The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:6
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Let today be a day of worship to God as you celebrate with your family all the ways he has so richly blessed us.
Scriptures and themes adapted from Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (900–901). Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.