Do You “Say Thanks” or “Give Thanks”?

A Memorable Expression of Thanks

I rode the bus to school when I was in high school. One morning we came to the last stop in our neighborhood. There was usually only one person there, an older boy. On that day the bus driver stopped and he wasn’t there. Rather than drive away, which she usually did, she moved the bus a little forward and looked to her left, toward where the boy lived. It seemed odd to me and everyone else that she didn’t keep driving. I don’t remember her ever waiting for anyone. For some reason she didn’t drive away. She kept looking and waiting. I don’t know how much time elapsed, maybe five minutes, but it seemed like a long time. Then we saw him, a big handsome guy running toward the bus. The bus was completely quiet as he ran up the steps. She didn’t berate him for being late. Then he did something simple and beautiful that made me feel great. In front of an audience of his peers who were amazed at the uncharacteristically kind gesture of our bus driver he stopped and said, “Thank you.”

school bus - give thanks

Like you I hear people say “thank you” every day. But there’s something about that moment that’s etched in my mind. He didn’t just say thanks, what he did was give thanks.

This week is Thanksgiving and it’s worth devoting our attention to the topic of being thankful. Today let’s focus on giving thanks.

Four Elements of What it Means to Give Thanks to God

  1. When we give thanks our words come from our hearts not just our lips Isaiah 29:13, Psalm 111:1.
  2. When we give thanks it flows from gratitude not obligation Colossians 3:16.
  3. When we give thanks it’s a personal response after experiencing God’s blessing Psalm 9:1.
  4. When we give thanks we are showing God in the most favorable light we can Psalm 86:12.

We teach our kids to “say thank you.” It’s important and proper but it isn’t the same thing as teaching them to give thanks. What’s the difference?

How do you thank God? When we pray for our food usually it’s automatic. We should still do it, but it’s not a spontaneous expression of gratitude.

When I was in India in October I had to be careful with the water, not to drink any. I even had to be careful in the shower not to get any in my eyes or swallow any. If I had I probably would have gotten sick. When I took my first shower back in the the USA I spontaneously thanked God for our clean safe water.

When was the last time you gave thanks to God versus said thank you to Him? When was your heart so full of gratitude you spontaneously gave thanks?

Try this. Stop and spend a few minutes right now and think about your life, your health, your family, your ministry, your possessions, the blessings God has poured upon you, financially, relationally, and spiritually. When you do, you won’t have to manufacture an attitude of thanks. From your heart of gratitude you will naturally give thanks. Then do what your heart tells you. Give thanks!

What can you give thanks for today? Please leave a question or comment below. Thanks!

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