Acts of true thankfulness transform us. No matter where we are in our walk with God, they dramatically change us. How?
Thankfulness brings us face-to-face with grace.
To be truly thankful, we have to acknowledge the source of every good thing. Each gift, whether it is a new house or a new friend, shows that the Giver knows who we are and what has meaning and value to us. When we are truly thankful, we can't help knowing and declaring that God is so much better to us than we deserve. And that leads to the second change.
Thankfulness humbles us.
Pride is closely tied to a spirit of independence. It fades when we sincerely believe that everything good comes from God. Thankful people realize that our real strength is in the fact that the Almighty invites us to depend upon Him. And pride pretty much disintegrates when we realize that God has given us much more than we deserve.
There is a strong link between grace and humility. Perhaps God gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34, 1 Peter 5:5) because they are thankful for it. Why give people something they can't understand or appreciate?
Thankfulness motivates us.
People who are not spiritually motivated usually lack one thing: the ability to sense God's reality. That's right, the one thing that can spiritually motivate, mobilize and empower us to feats of faith is sensing of the reality of God. The best possible path to that reality is the path of praise and thanksgiving.
In order to know that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, we need to see the many acts of God in our lives. We need to number, mark and be aware of the benefits He has bestowed upon us. Without such acts of thanksgiving, the attitude of thankfulness eventually dries up and disappears.
Intensifying our thanks.
If a person wanted to intensify the act of thanksgiving, what could she or he do? What could you do? Many of us shop for bargain basement spirituality—something that looks good enough to be acceptable and can be gained at a cheap price. But God has provided a more authentic way to intensify our thanks to Him.
The best way to exercise thanksgiving is through SACRIFICE. If God seems remote and you want to draw close, maybe you need to make a sacrifice.
Sacrifice is a tangible gift, work or deed that springs from a thankful heart. Sacrifice brings us into fellowship with the Almighty. It realigns our hearts, it reassigns our priorities, and it helps us realize a deeper plane of existence. Sacrifice gives us a sense of the reality of God.
When I was executive director I sometimes felt bad to see people depriving themselves of things I felt were essential—things my family and I had not given up—in order to give sacrificially to Jews for Jesus.
Once I was so touched, I felt compelled to send back a sizable donation from a pensioner because I feared that he was doing without food and heat to give it. In a letter I told him that we were far from desperate, and that he needed the money more than we did.
I received back a correctly indignant letter reminding me that the gift was not to Jews for Jesus but to God. The fact that I was in comfort was irrelevant to this man. He had given such sacrifices to God on many occasions throughout his life, and suggested that if I was uncomfortable with that, maybe I should examine what I could sacrifice.
That man taught me something: One must look to God and ask what He would allow us to sacrifice. God does not receive great sacrifices from just anyone. But what a sweet, stirring thanksgiving event is possible when you approach God with your all, your everything, your life—and with a smile, say: "What will you allow me to present to you as my token of appreciation and love?" And the Almighty smiles back and says, "If you really mean it, this (and He indicates something to you) would be nice."
TRY IT; YOU'LL LIKE IT!
Online extra: This article was edited down from the original but you can see the full article here.