The Difference Thanks Makes

Monday, October 19th, 2015 at 8:48 am

As we get close to November and start thinking towards Thanksgiving (and before the 30-Day Thankfulness Challenges start popping up on Facebook), I’ve been noticing thankfulness in daily life.

Now, I usually think of thankfulness in terms of thankfulness to God – and generally get frustrated when the focus is on thankfulness towards other people (don’t even get me started on what I think of how “the pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians on the first thanksgiving.”)

And thankfulness to God is essential. He is, after all, the source of every good gift (See James 1:17).

But being thankful to God doesn’t preclude thankfulness to others. In fact, I think thanking God should naturally flow out into thanking others. As I become aware of God’s gifts, I become aware of how he uses others as gifts in my life. That’s when I can give thanks, like Paul did in Romans 16:3-4: “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.”

Recognizing that God never commands being thankful to anyone other than Himself, I still think that thankfulness to others can be a powerful part of the Christian life. Why?

Because even if we aren’t commanded to be thankful to others, we are commanded to encourage one another (See 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14). And thankfulness is hugely encouraging.

Because even if we aren’t commanded to be thankful to others, we are commanded to love one another (See John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, Ephesians 5:2 and others). And thankfulness is nothing if not loving.

The best example I can think of for thankfulness to others (and how it encourages and demonstrates love) is my husband.

I cook dinner for us almost every evening, and it almost never fails that sometime, in the course of the meal or the evening, Daniel will thank me for making dinner.

When I make a phone call or post a letter or run an errand for Daniel, he makes sure to thank me – verbally, in a text, in an email.

I sometimes often get discouraged with my housekeeping abilities or my time-management skills or a dozen other real or perceived faults. And almost always, Daniel’s response is thanks.

“Thank you for taking care of our daughter all day.”

“Thank you for doing dishes.”

“Thank you for folding the laundry.”

“Thank you for growing us tomatoes.”

“Thank you for listening to me.”

It’s not big things that he’s thanking me for. If I chose, I could brush off his thanks with a “no problem.” And those things aren’t a problem (usually). But that’s not the point.

The point is that when he thanks me, I feel encouraged. I feel strengthened. I feel loved.

That is the difference thanks makes.

And it challenges me to do the same for others.

Reader Comments (1):

  1. Barbara H. says:

    I agree that thanking others is both encouraging and loving. It’s also kind, and I believe, edifying. It’s a blessing to know our efforts are appreciated and helpful. Without some kind of acknowledgement, we can feel we are on the wrong track or displeasing in some way. So while we don’t do things for the acknowledgement and don’t necessarily seek it out, it’s a blessing when it comes unbidden.

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