February 13: Gratitude
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands… Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name – Psalm 100:1,4
Thanksgiving above all involves communication with God. This is why the psalmist specifies that our thanksgiving is to be “unto the Lord”, within “his gates” and “his courts”, and expressed “unto him”. Thanksgiving only takes place when we are talking to God.
We can try to develop a contented heart, we can express to others how grateful we are – but it is not thanksgiving until we are talking to God and expressing our appreciation to him directly. Contentedness is not thanksgiving. Expressing a general sense of “being blessed” is not thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is you telling God, “Thank you!” Therefore, thanksgiving is only happening when prayer is happening.
However, it is also true that there is a public aspect to giving thanks. This is why gratitude is in the Bible constantly connected to the public proclamation of God’s glory. Here the psalmist exhorts “all lands” to make a joyful noise. Even while we are talking to God, there is also an element of thanksgiving that is public worship and proclamation as well.
So thanksgiving is first and foremost prayer. Yet it is not biblical thanksgiving if it remains only and always private. True thanksgiving overflows in public, prayerful proclamation of the goodness and glory of God. Thanksgiving is private, grateful prayer gone public!
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