In the event you take time to check the definition of the word “thanksgiving” in your dictionary, you will find the following: Part of speech: A noun. Derivation: From the Anglo‑Saxon word thanc, Meaning: 1.The act of rendering thanks, especially to God. 2. A prayer expressing gratitude. 3. A public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness or mercies, a day set apart for making this possible.
Wilfred Peterson, however, is not fully convinced that the lexicographers got it right. He thinks that real thanksgiving is “thanksliving,” whereby you go beyond the verbal expression of gratitude and demonstrate it by your life. Let me quote him:
“The art of thanks giving is thanksliving. It is gratitude in action. It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good. It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others. It is thanking God for opportunities by accepting them as a challenge to achievement. It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy. It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful. It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others. It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and reverence you show your body. It is thanking God for the creative ideas that enrich life by adding your own creative contributions to human progress. It is thanking God for each new day by living it to the fullest. It is thanking God by giving hands, arms, legs, and voice to your thankful spirit. It is adding to your prayer of thanksgiving, acts of thanksliving.”
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15
It is all of this plus a great deal more. If you want to discover the importance of thanksgiving, take your Bible and in a concordance check the number of references to the word “thanksgiving,” and you will discover how great an importance God attaches to the attitude of the heart, as well as our actions which demonstrate gratitude for all that He has done.
In Canada, the United States, Liberia, and several other nations, a day is set aside as a holiday for thanksgiving; but if thanksgiving belongs to any group of people on the face of the earth, it should be the children of God who recognize the bountiful blessings of their Heavenly Father.
The prophet Amos spoke of a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Amos 4:5 KJV). Our food is to be received with thanksgiving, wrote Paul to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:3). Old Testament feasts were begun with prayer and thanksgiving (e.g. Nehemiah 11:17). “All this is for your benefit,” wrote Paul, “so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
The Psalmist wrote that we are to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4), which means when you enter the sanctuary of prayer‑‑be it in the church or your bedroom‑‑begin by praising God for what He has done. “In everything give thanks,” wrote Paul to the Thessalonians, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). A constant attitude of gratitude should be a reflection of our joy, knowing that the bountiful blessings which we have are not the result of what we have done, but rather the result of God’s great goodness to us.
The person who is truly thankful begins to live that gratitude, and in so doing blesses others. As someone put it, “In gratitude for your own good fortune, you must render in return some sacrifice of your life.” Yes, thanksgiving, the real kind, results in thanksliving.
Resource reading: Psalms 145:1-21