“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
Under the law and its sacrificial system, there were sin offerings. Sin offerings were constant reminders of the sinfulness of the ones bringing the sacrifices, continuous reminders of their ongoing need for forgiveness, atonement, cleansing, and righteousness (Heb. 10:3).
The sacrificial system included not only sin offerings, but also thank offerings. These sacrifices were outward expressions of thanksgiving by the children of Israel in response to God’s merciful provisions for both their spiritual and physical needs. God wanted them offered, not by obligation, but by free will: “And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the Lord, offer it at your own will” (Lev. 22:29).
As believers under grace, we don’t bring an ongoing sacrifice for sin; instead we praise God and rest in the once-for-all, perfect sacrifice for sin by Christ at the Cross. We also don’t bring thank offerings to the Lord in the manner Israel did under the law but, like Israel, we do offer our thanksgiving to God out of our own free will, thanking Him for His grace in providing for our spiritual and physical needs.
Thanksgiving crucifies self. It is unselfish and humble. Thanksgiving recognizes God as the Source of everything. Thanksgiving, the holiday, and thanksgiving in everyday life, remind us of our dependence on God and the continual blessings that flow from His hand.
Ephesians 5:20 instructs us when to give thanks: “always.” It tells us what to give thanks for: “all things.” It shows us who we give thanks to: “God and the Father.” It teaches us how to give thanks: “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The appropriate response to what God has done and given is thanksgiving. If we are thankless, we’re not looking for or seeing God in our lives. We give thanks always because we are continually the beneficiaries of His grace and goodness. In Acts, God’s Word tells us that “He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (17:25) and that “He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (14:17).
We give thanks to God “for all things.” “All things” means both spiritual (Eph. 1:3-14; et al) and physical blessings (1 Tim. 6:17). To thank God for both spiritual and physical blessings consecrates everything and all of life to Him. And above all, we thank God for His greatest gift of all: His Son and the victory over sin and death that we have in Him.
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.