For a Christian, giving thanks is a response to the goodness and mercy of God. Additionally, it is a mark of obedience because we are commanded to give thanks. This is because God knows giving thanks is good for our relationship with Him and good for our wellbeing.
First Thessalonians 5:16–18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). Verses instructing us to give thanks to the Lord are throughout the Bible. Some examples are Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:29, and 1 Chronicles 16:24.
Our response to this great pursuit of love should be thankfulness. God knows this. And, He knows it is good for us to give thanks. It is human tendency to become inward focused and selfish, which is not good for us. Even secular society recognizes the emotional benefits of being thankful. Gratitude helps us look beyond ourselves and gain better perspective.
Christians know that everything good ultimately comes from God. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” In giving thanks to God, we are reminded of how deeply loved we are and that there is purpose in our lives. We see the gift of all that God has provided for us, both materially and spiritually, and can rest in His continual promise of faithfulness. When we grasp the magnitude of the spiritual blessings God has bestowed on us, we cannot help but be thankful to Him.
Giving thanks to God also helps us guard against covetousness, bitterness, selfishness, anger, and other harmful attitudes. Even when our circumstances are difficult, harmful, and demoralizing, thankfulness can help. We are not necessarily thankful for the difficult circumstance, but can give thanks for God’s presence in the midst and what He promises to do through it.
In trying times, it can be difficult to give thanks to God, but verses like Romans 5:3–5, Romans 8:28, James 1:2–4, 12, and 2 Corinthians 12:9 can encourage us. Even when we are surrounded by evil, we can thank God that He is more powerful. He can sustain us and He can redeem the situation, ultimately bringing forth some good.
Paul was in jail when he wrote the letter to the Philippians, yet it is replete with the theme of joy. Here is what he counseled: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4–7).
Giving thanks to God is important because He is utterly deserving of it. Giving thanks to God benefits us as well, in bringing joy and peace to our hearts.