We are commanded by Scripture to give thanks to God, which means that we don’t just give thanks whenever we feel like it. We must make thanksgiving a discipline. This practice of giving thanks to God isn’t natural to the flesh, but through the Spirit’s sanctifying work in our hearts and lives we can (and must) learn not only to give thanks, but also how to do so.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that this discipline involves taking the time to thank God in all circumstances—even when your flesh is struggling (cf. 1 Thess 5:18)—and learning what we ought to give thanks for. While it’s good to be thankful for all good things—from a well-functioning car to a positive doctor’s visit to the green tea ice cream you had last night—part of maturing as a Christian is learning the value of particular blessings God has showered upon us. It’s not about mere words, but depth of soul. We need to ask: Amidst Paul’s greatest suffering, what were the first things that he sincerely and continually thanked God for? What are blessings to which the Scriptures ascribe particular significance that deserve our intentional thanksgiving? Here are seven.
Blessing #1: Thank God for Your Salvation (1 Timothy 1:12-16)
Without a doubt, there is no greater blessing for which to thank God than the fact that He has promised you full and eternal salvation from His wrath (1 Thess 1:10). The most devastating and destructive end of any man is to be eternally condemned by and separated from the Creator. And thus the greatest blessing is salvation from His wrath, the promise of eternal life, and unhindered fellowship with Him. Thank the Lord continually that He has secured for you eternity with Him in heaven. This, indeed, is good news. May we never stop saying “Thank you” for the fact that He has counted you, a sinner, fully forgiven (Col 2:13).
Blessing #2: Thank God for your Household (Proverbs 18:22; Psalm 127:3)
Our current culture has not only tried to redefine marriage, but also betray the very blessing of it. But let the Creator speak for Himself. He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord (Prov 18:22). He who has children has obtained blessing from the Lord (Ps 127:3). Without a doubt, family life comes with its troubles (1 Cor 7:28), but the presence of a faithful spouse and growing children are a visible indicator of God’s favor upon a man. Thank God for your family every day.
Blessing #3: Thank God for the Ministry of the Church and the Fellowship of the Gospel (Philippians 3:8)
If you love Christ, you will love His gospel. If you love His gospel, you will love the work of the gospel. And if you love the work of the gospel, you will love those who labor for its growth. Thank God continually for those who labor for the gospel that saved your own soul and pray that the gospel spreads far and wide to others for their salvation.
Blessing #4: Thank God for the Relationships that God has Allowed You to Invest in (2 Timothy 1:3-5, 16)
The journey to heaven is no easy one. Walking the narrow path is filled with afflictions and tribulations (Acts 14:22). But the Lord often strengthens our feeble knees in the uphill climbs and refreshes our souls when the heat intensifies through the relationships He has given us in the body of Christ. Genuine relationships in Christ are not to be taken for granted. Even more “rare” are those men and women whom you invested in and discipled who are now laboring to carry out the very work of the gospel that you invested in them into others (2 Tim 2:2). Thank the Lord continually for these relationships.
Blessing #5: God’s Physical Provision for Your Needs (Acts 27:35)
Health and provision, in western culture, are often assumed to be the product of one’s own labor or one of our inherent “rights.” But while we are called to be self-controlled with our bodies and to work to provide for our families, it is ultimately God who dispenses these blessings in whatever measure He deems best to particular people (Deut 8:18). There is no guarantee of what your life will look like tomorrow (James 4:13-17), and so if you go to sleep realizing that your body is still functioning and you have bread on the table, do what we all tell our kids to do and say, “Thank You.”
Blessing #6: Thank God for His Faithfulness in All of Your Life (Psalm 136)
God’s faithfulness is not an abstract concept, but a concrete reality. Our lives are a display of His lovingkindness. As a Christian, look at how God has worked out all aspects of your life up to this point for your good, and ask yourself how many times He has ever let you down (He never has). Look at how God has dealt with you over the course of your life, marvel at His providence, and thank Him that He worked your life according to His counsel, and not your own. Every blessing was undeserved, and every trial was for good (Ps 119:67, 71; Rom 8:28).
Blessing #7: Thank God for His Creation (1 Timothy 4:4-5)
Okay, so I live in Hawaii. My land is more beautiful than yours (prove me wrong). But regardless of where you live, open your eyes to the beauty of God’s creation around you that He put in place both to testify of His glory to you and also for you to enjoy with thanksgiving (Ps 19:1-5; Rom 1:20).
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. The point isn’t to make an exhaustive index of God’s blessings in your life, but rather to direct our souls toward recognizing what God’s Word tells us are significant and particular marks of His favor in our lives as His children. We should take the time to thank Him regularly for these blessings. For we are God’s children, and we ought to recognize and thank Him for those unique blessings that remind us of this great truth (1 John 3:1)!