“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” — Psalm 100:4-5
I invite you to consider with me two common expressions with the word “thanks” in them, and to apply them to spiritual matters.
The first is “Thanks, but no thanks.”
This expression is used in our society as a polite way of acknowledging the generous offer of someone but then for whatever reason declining the offer. Perhaps we don’t want the contents of the offer or we may think that the offer is too much and we are undeserving of it.
During this month our country as well as many others set aside a specific day to remember to give thanks for what we have been given.
Thanksgiving was declared a holiday by our government in 1863 during the Civil War, and a fixed day—the fourth Thursday in November–was set by Congress in 1942 during World War II.
Surely there is nothing wrong with a day devoted to giving thanks, although for a Christian it is appropriate to do so every day. And certainly there are many reasons for Americans to be thankful–food, shelter, family, freedom, and so on.
But this holiday, like many others, would be empty without the main reason for giving thanks to God. That reason is Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32)
Unfortunately, many people are blind to this true reason for giving thanks. Perhaps they don’t want what Jesus has to offer. Perhaps they feel the offer of forgiveness of sins is too much and they are undeserving. For them it is “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Let us as Christians use the holiday of Thanksgiving as an opportunity to share with others the main reason for living a life of thanksgiving, and direct people to the only true God to whom our thanks should be directed.
Another Common Expression
Another common expression is “Thanks for nothing.”
Usually when this is uttered the speaker is not really giving thanks at all, but is sarcastically pointing out that he or she was let down by the help provided.
We Christians can be tempted to feel this way toward our God at times too. When our prayers seem to go unanswered by God or we do not receive what we think we should, our hearts may mutter, “Thanks for nothing.”
When we feel this way, I suggest we think of this expression in a new way. God knows our every need and how best to answer our prayers for our spiritual good as He directs our way to heaven.
“Thanks for nothing…” to now worry about.
“Thanks for nothing…” to separate us from Your love.
“Thanks for nothing…” being required of us to atone for our own sins.
“Thanks for nothing…” to prevent us from living our lives in service to You in Your kingdom work.
“Thanks for nothing…” greater than we are able to bear.
As Thy prospering hand hath blest,
May we give Thee of our best
And by deeds of kindly love
For Thy mercies grateful prove,
Singing thus through all our days
Praise to God, immortal praise. (TLH #572:4)