The Bible declares, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord” (Psalm 92:1). The Scriptures abound with exhortations to give thanks and we find many accounts, from the Old Testament to the New, of thanks being offered up to God.
A Universal Obligation
The fact is, God is good to all the inhabitants of the earth and all should give Him thanks. Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies over all his works.”
God is gracious and merciful even to the wicked. A person may say, “I do not believe in God,” but still God provides the very breathe he or she breathes. Another may say, “I am a self-made man; I am a success because of my skills and my diligence; there is no reason for me to give thanks.” But, as Hannah proclaims in her doxology: “the Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, and lifteth up” (1 Samuel 2:7).
God sends the rain that makes it possible for life to exist on the earth. Jesus said, “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
There are those who never speak the name of God except as a form of profanity. There are multitudes who deny God’s existence, many more who fail to give thanks for His daily mercies, and some who even curse God to His face. But isn’t it a remarkable thing that God still allows these people to live on the earth that He made and sustains, and enables them receive benefits from the sun He causes to rise and the rain He sends in its season?
Psalm 117:1 says, “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise Him, all ye people.” All the nations, all the people of the earth ought to praise God and thank Him for his abundant blessings.
In his national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1789, President George Washington established a day for public thanksgiving and prayer in the newly formed United States, based on this evident truth: “it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor” (emphasis added).
How wonderfully God has blessed that early commitment on the part of our nation… and how sad to see us today, even as Christians, frequently forgetting this vital obligation.
A Willful Rejection
When Paul writes of those who seek to suppress the truth about God, he says, “The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). He is telling us that the reason some deny the biblical account of creation and fail to acknowledge the sovereign creator is not because of a commitment to be scientifically correct but because they don’t want to acknowledge any accountability to their maker. It is no wonder, then, that the Genesis account of creation is under constant attack.
Paul continues, in verse 21, “Because when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened.” They were not thankful. There is clear evidence in God’s handywork that He is the creator of all things. There is evidence in the rain He sends and the grass He makes to grow that He is still caring for the creatures of earth — but those who refuse to receive the evidence are not thankful.
In the description of the perilous times of the last days, an unthankful spirit is listed along with other actions of ungodliness. “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…” (2 Timothy 3:2).
Men delude themselves into thinking that if they ignore God they have no accountability to Him. They vainly imagine that they can solve any problem they may face and keep nature on its course in order to preserve the planet, rather than seeing themselves as stewards of a created earth. Some will concede there is an intelligent designer, a mystical force which moves things along, but still refuse to acknowledge the true and living God and His Son Jesus Christ.
A Call to Repentance
May this be the day of repentance for us all, because we are all guilty of ingratitude. Don’t wait, complaining on the sidelines, for the rest of the world to respond to its Creator. Turn to God yourself, confessing His mercies and thanking Him for His provision. Consciously develop the habit of gratefully acknowledging the mercy and blessings of God in your life, especially in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
In olden times, when Israel had sinned and felt forsaken by the Lord, they admitted that no help could be found in the false gods to which they had turned: “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Art not thou He, O Lord our God? Therefore we will wait upon Thee: for Thou hast made all things” (Jeremiah 14:22). Are you waiting joyfully and gratefully each day upon the one true God?
Paul reminded the pagans at Mars Hill that God gives life and breath and that in Him we live and move and have our being. Considering that our very existence depends on the mercy of God, we surely should be thankful. He then calls on “all men everywhere” to turn from their idols and neglect, and to repent because there is a coming day of judgment by His Son Jesus Christ.
When Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man at Lystra, the people who observed it said, “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” Of course when these men of God heard of it they were greatly distressed, admitted that they were men of like passion, and exhorted them:
“Turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:15-17).
The apostle declares once again that God made the heaven and earth and all things that are therein. That’s the starting point. It is vital that this truth be embraced. Without it there is no foundation for any of the other teachings of God’s Word.
And then the point is made that God “did good” in relation to us. He gave rain from heaven which brought about fruitful seasons. The rain did not fall because God wound up a system in creation that now operates on its own. God sends the rain.
It is a rather basic principle of Scripture that God controls the weather, and yet some still wrestle against it. Psalm 147:7-9 states it plainly, “Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.”
God is involved with His creation on a moment-by-moment basis. He doesn’t stand at a distance and watch it function on its own. He sends the rain. He makes the grass to grow. He provides the fruitful seasons and blesses men to enjoy the harvest.
God is good and merciful and those who have failed to recognize His goodness are called on to repent and give Him thanks. “Praise Him for His mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness…Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 150:2,6). May our praise in proportion to mighty acts and his majestic greatness.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8-9)