the shape of leadership

Seven Verses for Thanksgiving

What the Bible says about living with gratitude

Christina Quick on November 23, 2021


The Bible has a lot to say about giving thanks. As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, reflect on these seven passages:


1. Psalm 136:1

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”

This psalm is written in a liturgical form. The worship leader likely recited the first statement in each verse. The congregation followed with the familiar affirmation: “His love endures forever.”

The Hebrew word translated “love” relates to God’s covenant-keeping faithfulness. This Thanksgiving, take time to talk with others about God’s enduring faithfulness.


2. Matthew 26:26

“Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’”

When we take time to offer thanks for a meal, we are not just following a cultural tradition. We are following the example of Jesus (Matthew 15:36; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16; 24:30; John 6:23).

For Jesus, thanksgiving was a heart attitude. Even as He looked ahead to the cross at the Last Supper, He stopped and gave thanks.

As you thank God for His physical provision of food and other material blessings, express gratitude as well for His spiritual provision of eternal life through Jesus.


3. 1 Corinthians 1:4

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.”

In a social media world, it is easy to feel jealous of those who seem to lead blessed lives. But instead of envy, we can choose thanksgiving — praising God for all He is doing and praying for His grace upon the lives of our friends.

Thanksgiving is more than just an annual observance. It is a daily attitude that reflects the will of God for our lives.

Paul thanked God in particular for what He was doing in the spiritual lives of the Corinthians. Paul wasn’t looking for “likes” or personal recognition, though. He gave all the glory to Jesus (verses 10–17).

As ministers of the gospel, it is especially gratifying to see people growing in their relationship with Christ. Whether that is happening as a result of our ministry or some else’s, thankfulness is always an appropriate response.


4. 2 Corinthians 9:12

“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”

The Corinthians didn’t keep their blessings to themselves. They shared in tangible ways with others, which resulted in an “overflowing” of thanks to God.

Generosity is one of the best ways to spread the spirit of thanksgiving. Giving from a heart of thankfulness can have a cascading effect, as the beneficiaries of our kindness also experience and express gratitude.

This holiday season, be the reason others are thankful.


5. Ephesians 5:4

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

Unfortunately, political disagreements and other disputes will ruin many Thanksgiving gatherings. Don’t take the bait. Avoid talk that doesn’t honor God. Instead, choose words that reflect Christlike love and thankfulness.


6. Philippians 4:6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

It has been a difficult year for many people. From illnesses to financial woes, the struggles can seem overwhelming at times. However, Paul reminds us that we don’t have to carry these burdens alone. In every situation, we can come before God in a posture of trust and gratitude.

As you give your worries to God, give thanks that he is working on your behalf.


7. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

For some, this Thanksgiving won’t be the same. Maybe a death in the family has left an empty place at the table. Or perhaps there is an empty nest as adult children start their own traditions far from home. Maybe the congregation that scattered during the pandemic still hasn’t returned.

Whatever the circumstances, give thanks to the One whose goodness does not change. After all, thanksgiving is more than just an annual observance. It is a daily attitude that reflects the will of God for our lives.

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