Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving . . . The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me. (Psalm 50:14, 23 ESV)
We have arrived at Thanksgiving Week of 2017, and what I would like to do in these two blogs leading up to Thanksgiving Day is to encourage you to pause and reflect on what the verse above is truly instructing us to do.
At first glance, the phrase “sacrifice of thanksgiving” seems incongruent. How could being thankful for receiving some blessing be a sacrifice? It seems like such a natural response. Clearly the psalmist had something more in view, and I think this is it: to be thankful continually . . . even when we would rather not be thankful.
Today we will look at the definition of a “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” and on Wednesday we will see how we are to live it out.
“A sacrifice of thanksgiving” defined
When the sky is blue, the clouds are fleecy, and the sun is brightly shining, it is easy to be thankful to God. There really is no cost—no sacrifice—in being thankful when everything is going your way. Your boss has given you a raise, your medical checkup was outstanding, and there is harmony in the home. To be sure, thanksgiving flows from our hearts to heaven when we are in these calm seasons.
But what about those days when the storm winds begin to blow and the waves of challenge crash over us? That’s when thanksgiving feels more like a sacrifice . . . something that is a bit more costly. Here are a few examples:
- The promotion you expected goes to someone else.
- There is too much month left at the end of your money.
- Your family relationships have become strained.
- The medical test comes back positive.
I am sure you can think of many more examples. Perhaps you are in the middle of one of them right now. These are the seasons our Lord is speaking of when he directs us to offer “a sacrifice of thanksgiving” to Him. Heaven seems silent, God seems distant, and being thankful is going to take some effort on your part!
We see this concept reiterated in the New Testament; the letter to the Hebrews reminds us that we are to continually offer, through Jesus Christ, “a sacrifice of praise” to our God (Hebrews 13:15). There are no qualifications or stipulations. It is simply what the child of God is to be doing, regardless of the circumstances in life.
But how do we do it? How do we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise when we don’t feel all that thankful? Come back Wednesday to find out!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!