Today in America we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. For followers of Jesus, this day should be a deeply spiritual day. In fact the word “holiday” is a compound word from the two words “holy” and “day”.
Believers share this day with those in our culture who enjoy the day off of work and the feasting on fowl. Many who are outside of the faith may even express the giving of thanks. Yet the idea of giving thanks requires an object to whom thanks is given. Believers understand this object to be our God, who is the creator and sustainer of all. To offer thanks without God as the object of the prayer is to merely spout words into the air.
But as Christians our giving of thanks to the God of heaven should not be the final destination. Consider the words of the psalmist,
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
(Psalm 100:4 ESV)
In the imagery of the psalms, thanksgiving is that by which we enter the gates towards God’s presence. Keep in mind that we are not to remain at the gates. Gates are entry points and not destination stops.
Genuine thanksgiving should lead us to praise. We pass through the gates, but we linger in the courts. As we call to mind the benefits and blessings we have received, our attention should turn and be arrested by the one who has provided those blessings. God gives to us out of who he is. So we move to praising God as the all-powerful God of the heaven. His blessings lead us to praise him for being a loving and merciful God.
As the final line of the verse above teaches, we give thanks to him. That leads to blessing his name. Thanksgiving leads to praise.
So, by all means, recall the many blessings that God has provided to you. Name them one by one. But never end your gaze upon the blessings. Look up to the one who is the blesser.