Once again it is time to give thanks! Americans have been celebrating this national holiday since the time of the Colonies in the 1600’s. The holiday was established by George Washington in 1789, but became a federal holiday under Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Lincoln established the holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November, stating it to be a day of “thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” It wasn’t until 1942 that the holiday was established on the fourth Thursday of the month of November. Early in our country’s establishment, our leaders recognized that thanksgiving should be offered to God in heaven from which every good blessing comes (James 1:17).
Like many of the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving has fallen prey to the culture and has lost much of its meaning. Thanksgiving is often celebrated only as a gathering of families, eating turkey and watching football. While these activities are certainly important and make the holiday special, we must not forget the importance of giving thanks to God above for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us, especially our salvation that comes to us through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross (Eph 2:8-9). By giving thanks to God, we magnify the goodness and glory of God. King David writes in Psalm 69:30, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.”
Be a Human Telescope
The word “magnify” can be used in two different senses. Microscopes and magnifying glasses are used to enlarge the smallest objects making them appear bigger than they really are so they can be seen properly. On the other hand, telescopes are used to magnify very large objects and bring them closer to the naked eye allowing them to appear as magnificent as they actually are. It is this second sense which the Psalmist has in mind. God is not some small object but is rather glorious and beyond magnificent. We who love God are called to help the world see the greatness of who God really is. Everything we do, whether we eat or drink should be for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), which means that our desire is to make God look as great as He truly is. We are called to be telescope Christians for the world helping them see the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God.
The Psalmist tells us explicitly that we can magnify God by simply giving thanks! When we give thanks to God from our hearts, God is magnified and glorified. The reason for this is simple: givers are more glorious than receivers. When we give thanks to God we recognize that God is the source of our blessings. Giving thanks to God recognizes that He is greater and more glorious than we are. It is certainly not natural to give thanks to God. Most people in the world do not want to give thanks to God because it detracts from their own glory. People, by sinful nature, love their own glory more than the glory of God. The root of all ingratitude toward God is the love of one’s own greatness. The natural man loves to recognize his own self-sufficiency and hates to think of himself as someone who is needy, helpless and dependent on God to provide. But the man who is truly heavenly minded will understand that everything they have is from God above, and out of humility of heart will inevitably give thanks to God.
Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
The Psalmist tells us that God prefers thanksgiving over extravagant gifts like oxen or bulls. In Bible times, an ox or a bull was an expensive gift that was often used as a sacrifice to God. But the Psalmist says that those expensive gifts are less valuable to God than simply a heart that offers genuine thanksgiving. God is not pleased and is actually insulted with such expensive gifts because it is possible that the giver thinks that they are contributing to God as though He needed something. God owns everything including every beast of the forest and every cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10). What God wants most from us and what magnifies Him is recognizing that we have nothing to offer Him, but that He has everything to offer us.
This Thanksgiving begin by offering thanks for your great salvation which comes to us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as a gift. Thank God for your family, your job, your provision, and everything you can think of. In all things give thanks to our good Father in heaven and you will magnify His glory to the world.