By James Boice
Theme: Giving Thanks Publicly
During this Thanksgiving week, we learn how to render thanks to the Lord through the prayers of thanksgiving from Jesus himself.
Scripture: Matthew 14:19
On this Thanksgiving Day, we continue our look at Jesus’ example to us in so small a matter as thanking God for his food.
4. We should give thanks publicly before other men and women. My fourth point is that we should give thanks publicly. Obviously Jesus did. That is why the disciples were able to observe it and why the gospel writers were able to record his thanksgiving in the books that bear their names. In the gospel of Matthew, from which our text is taken, Jesus thanked God publicly before 5,000 men as well as many additional women and children. “Ah,” you say, “but prayer is a private thing. I thank God privately.” That is good. You should. But you should also thank him publicly, as Jesus did. What does public thanksgiving accomplish?
First, it honors God. When we thank God before other men and women we are pointing out to them that God is a good God and well worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. That is an important testimony to give before the watching world, which thinks that God is indifferent at best and probably hostile. We should remember that one characteristic of the unbelieving world, according to Paul’s analysis in Romans, is that it is not thankful. Paul wrote, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). There is no heart so dark as one that is unable to thank God for anything.
Second, public thanksgiving identifies us with God. It is a way of saying that whatever happens in this unbelieving and sinful world, whatever we may suffer either for our own sins or for the sins of others, we nevertheless stand with God. We acknowledge him as God. We confess, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). We need to be witnesses of the grace of that most gracious and giving God to others.
5. We should give thanks to God. The last point is so obvious it almost goes without saying. But I should say it anyhow: We should give thanks to God. I mean by this not merely that we should be thankful, which is the point I have been making all along. I mean that we should be thankful to God. We express thanks to other people. We thank people who help us in the supermarket, who do work for us in the home, who smile or say a kind word. We are formally thankful to those who give us presents. It is rude not to be thankful or to fail to express thanks properly. But how reluctant we are to thank the great Almighty God from whom, in one way or another, all our other causes for thanksgiving come! How negligent! How embarrassing! How sinful!
- What does public thanksgiving accomplish?
- How would you respond to someone who claims that prayer is a private thing, and thus he or she only prays privately and not publicly?
Reflection: For what are you most thankful this Thanksgiving?
Application: Send a note of encouragement to someone you know who shows a thankful spirit even in tough times. Also, find ways to thank God publicly in your speech. Pray for God to use that.
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Think and Act Biblically from James Boice is a devotional of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Think and Act Biblically and the mission of the Alliance.