Time hastens on and we find ourselves approaching another Thanksgiving Day. It is good to pause and take time to reflect on what the Lord has done for us. Many of the Psalms are reflective of God’s enduring mercy and steadfast love towards sinners and that is indeed the reason for thanksgiving. If it were not for the Lord’s mercies, we would be consumed. If it were not for the Lord’s mercies, we would not have the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed to us. If it were not for the Lord’s mercies, we would not enjoy the manifold material blessings that we have received from day to day. These are all reasons for thanksgiving, but have we ever thought about the manner of giving thanks?
Leviticus 22:29 gives us a vital lesson in how we are to give thanks, “And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.” This Thanksgiving Day, we are called to focus on the Giver of every blessing we have received, but the question is, “How will we do that?” Will we do so grudgingly perhaps because we want to hoard what we think is really ours? Will we do it generously but secretly hoping for some special reward? Will we give thanks but only pay lip service to thanksgiving? Will we give thanks realizing that all things we have received are God’s? There are so many ways in which people give thanks, but this verse from Leviticus tells us that when we offer thanksgiving back to the Lord, we must offer it at our own will.
Thanksgiving does not merely mean that since God has given us so much, we will give a certain amount back to Him. Thanksgiving is left open to our wills. We can will to withhold from God what rightfully belongs to Him. The New Testament equivalent to this verse in Leviticus is 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” God does not force us to give thanks to Him. If that were the case, it would not be heartfelt thanksgiving, but mere acknowledgment of things we have received from Him. Thanksgiving is clearly a matter of the will or of the heart. The word in the Hebrew gives the idea of thanksgiving with pleasure, or good will.
Consider also the sacrifice of Christ. If all the sacrifices were fulfilled in His one sacrifice on the cross, then this thank offering was also fulfilled by Christ. How do you think Christ offered Himself? Did He not do so willingly? Did the thank offerings of Leviticus 22:29 already tell the Israelites that there was one who was eager to give Himself in the place of His people as the ultimate thank offering? Christ Himself said through the psalmist, “I do delight to do thy will, O my God” (Ps. 40:8). He gave His all for those who can give nothing in return. How will you give thanks this Thanksgiving Day? Will we heed the command this Thanksgiving Day 2011 of Psalm 100:4, which states, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name?”