二○二○年四月四日／四月五日 Click here for English version
Always Give Thanks to the Lord
Rev Arnold Chow
There are plenty of biblical references to thanksgiving. In the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms is filled with thanksgiving and praise. Most of the thanksgiving and related teachings in the New Testament are contained in the letters of Paul. Ten of his 13 epistles include words of thanks.
Some may think that Paul was following the style of Greek letters (which started with thanks to various gods or those in power). But when his letters are compared with those of his contemporaries, we will find that Paul has injected into his style the concept of thanksgiving, which is an integral part of a man of faith in Jesus.
The Pauline epistles are filled with Paul's thanks to God for others' lives and deeds, for help from others, for what he experienced and for what had not been accomplished. Likewise, he taught believers to give thanks in all circumstances: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17). Thanksgiving by believers is directed upward: It is God-centered.
For example, the world view expressed in saying grace before meals daily is one of "This is My Father's World." We believe that our daily bread, our wins and woes are all from the heavenly Father. Therefore, thanksgiving is not just an inner feeling, but also an expression of a cherished world view.
This upward direction is very important. We no longer focus on our own wins and woes. We will not be gratified to have been spared from some misfortune and utter an impromptu word of thanks. Our upward inclination enables us to know how to position ourselves in all circumstances, whether good or bad. It is because we know where we come from, and where we are going. As such, our words, our deeds and our being will all magnify God, with Him being our joy for life.
Meanwhile, Paul mentions tirelessly that the greatest blessing of all is the salvation bestowed by the Father through Jesus Christ. So for believers, thanksgiving is intertwined with Christ's redemption.
It has been said by a scholar that thanksgiving based on the redemptive grace of Christ is our best weapon against heresy. In the Letter to the Colossians where Paul tackles false teachings that have pervaded the church, he went to considerable length to teach believers to thank God. When man can thank God for salvation from the Father through Jesus Christ, he will know it is enough to proclaim Christ alone as Savior and that redemption has been accomplished and we need nothing more, nothing less. Thanksgiving like this is an affirmation that the gospel of the cross of Christ is more than enough. It will help us defy specious false teachings.
In this quarter, we will be studying selected passages from the Pauline epistles on thanksgiving. Let us lead a life of thanksgiving for all things, and learn how to always give thanks to the Lord.