The Encarta Dictionary provides the following definition of thankfulness: “an expression of gratitude; an acknowledgment of a favor or a gift that one has received from another.” The word thank is from the same root as think, which means “to reflect creatively with the mind.” So to thank someone requires the process of using one’s mind to form an intentional thought and to consider what is being done and has been done or given to you.
In addition, there are always at least two parties involved in the thankfulness process: the benefactor, the one who gives the favor or gift, and the recipient, the receiver of the favor or gift. Now although there are two parties involved, technically only one response is required, and that is on the part of the recipient since the benefactor initiated the transaction entirely.
Webster’s dictionary provides the following definitions for the words ‘gift’ and ‘favor:’
Gift: something given
Favor: an act of gracious kindness; an advantage to the benefit of someone or something
When we express our thankfulness, we are in fact verbalizing two very important things: (1) recognition of our appreciation to the benefactor, the gift giver, and (2) acceptance of the favor or gift in appreciation.
Let me ask you this question: Have you ever stopped to think what the response of thankfulness looks and sounds like? Let’s do so now.
Thankfulness is demonstrated in a grateful, happy, indebted, enthusiastic attitude. A thankful person is a respectful individual who demonstrates the attribute of humility. On the other hand, an unthankful individual is one who believes that he or she is entitled to that which he or she does not deserve.
Let’s use a common occurrence in everyday life as our example. Imagine with me, if you will, that you are running late for an important appointment. As you race to the glass building, you can see patrons entering the elevator. Then you realize that one of the patrons actually notices you, so you smile and pick up your speed. However, as you reach the elevator doors, to your surprise, she still allows the elevator doors to close without making any attempt or effort to keep them open. Possibly, if you are like me, you immediately think, Wow, how rude. I’m sure she saw me.
Now let’s picture the opposite reaction. It’s the same exact scenario, except this time, as the elevator doors begin to close, the patron who noticed you jabs her finger on the button that holds open the elevator doors for you. What should be your response? Right, your response should be a verbal thank-you for her action. And even though most likely you will hear, “You’re welcome,” from the benefactor, technically no additional effort or response is required from her since her thoughtful and compassionate action initiated the favor or gift to begin with.
What is my point? Simply this: that not expressing thankfulness (gratitude) would be just as rude as the one who allowed the doors to close in your face. When we know better, we are held to a standard of doing better.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)
Are you still with me? Then maybe you can agree with me about how sad it is to see, in today’s society, the many people who exhibit this attitude of entitlement. Again, an attitude of entitlement conveys the message that this world and other people owe us something—or, even worse, that God owes us something. Please hear me when I say that this world owes us nothing, since we do not hold the balance of its existence or even our existence in our own hands—and definitely God owes us nothing. Allow me to say it again: the Creator of the heavens, the earth, and all therein owes us nothing! However, on the flip side, we owe God absolutely everything!
Throughout the Bible you will find that we are instructed to give thanks to God, our Creator, for who He is and for all He has done for us. King David said it like this:
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100)
I pray that you have enjoyed. Please remember to make “Thanksgiving” more than just a day, decide to make it a life style!