Does Giving Thanks Help Me?

Bible Book: Philippians  4 : 6-7
Subject: Thanksgiving, The Benefit of; Gratitude, the Virture of

Does Giving Thanks Help Me?

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

It is strange to hear the things for which some people are thankful. In a Sunday School class one Sunday the teacher asked the children to share some of the things for which they were thankful. One little boy shot his hand into the air. When the teacher called upon him, she asked, “Well, Billy, for what are you thankful?” The little fellow replied, “I am thankful that I am not a turkey.”

Sometimes even a group can be thankful. A certain church found itself burdened with a very tedious, pious, and self-centered pastor for a couple of years. Then came the day when he was called to another church. He announced his resignation by saying, "Brethren, Jesus sent me to you and Jesus is now calling me away." There was a moment's silence and suddenly the congregation rose as one and began to sing, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus!" Apparently they were very grateful that the Savior had called their preacher away.

We know that the Bible teaches gratitude and thanksgiving, but what benefit do we derive from it? Don't get me wrong, we should do what God tells us to do whether it is personally beneficial to us or not; but, God seldom tells us to do things that are not for our own good as well as helpful to His Kingdom and to other people. When you tell a child to do something, he will usually ask, "Why?" A parent is likley to say, "Because I told you to." Actually, it is a good habit to stop and explain exactly why it is a good idea to do what you are told. When the children learn the benefits, they are more likely to do it more faithful, quickly and joyfully.

So, look at our text for today - found in Philippians 4:6-7: 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Paul was writing to the Church at Philippi when He told them to get rid of anxiety by praying and giving thanks - or, we might say to pray with thanksgiving as a vital part of our prayer life even when we have needs or we are facing serious problems. In other words, praying, singing and worshipping with thanskgiving has a way of assisting us in life, worship, work, family, other relationships, and giving thanks can even produce great results in our lives during troubled times.

We see from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that gratitude is something very important to the Lord, He ordered it from all of us in all circumstances. But what does it accomplish to be thankful? Does being thankful actually produce any important results in my life as a believer? Be assured that God does not require us to do anything that is not good for us. If we are told to be thankful, then thankfulness has some incontestable and irrefutabale positive part to play in our lives.

Today I want us to look at this subject to see not only that thankfulness is something God expects, commands and orders from us, but also that thankfulness has benefits and blessings echoing and reverberating back into our own lives.

First note ...

I. The Physical Benefit of Thanskgiving

The Bible declares that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were created by God as an intricate and complex creature. Proper food, sleep and exercise help to keep you fit and feeling good, but more importantly you were also made to have fellowship with God. One way that you stay in tune with your Creator is through gratitude and thanksgiving to Him for your life and daily blessings. It would be awful to be an atheist, for you would feel grateful for blessings in life and not know who to thank.

Actually, God has designed you to be personally and physically blessed by the attitude of gratitude. We are learning more everyday about the dangers of stress and depression. Doctors and scientist continue to discover through data and tests that stress and despondency lead to psychological problems, disease and early death. One thing that has been reported lately is the terrible distress and resulting illness that is being found in younger adults during this Covid-19 pandemic. Some medical professionals are admitting that the stress and illness can result from restrictions upon daily life may be greater than the danger of getting Covid-19.

God knew this long before we figured it out that we need to keep a thankful and positive attitude in our hearts and mind. Luke at Proverbs 17:22 and that God states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Being thankful and happy is better than taking pills. Being ungrateful, selfish and always wanting more, without appreciating what you have, can crush your bones, break your spirit and shorten your life.

According to medical research, cheerful people resist disease better than glum ones. In other words, "The surly bird catches the germ." Sorry, I just had to thrown that in!

During the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln was criticized for his cheerful spirit while so much bloodshed and death were occuring in the land. He replied, “With the fearful strain that is upon me, if I did not laugh I should die.”

God wants you to have a happy, thankful heart of gratitdue - you cannot serve Him best, be in your best health or live long enough to complete His work without a thankful heart.

Note second ...

II. The Mental Benefit of Thanskgiving

Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Gratitude can help you cope with life’s problems. "Matthew Henry, the well-known Bible commentator, was once robbed by thieves who took all of his money. Opening his diary later that evening, Henry wrote, 'Let me be thankful, first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they didn't take my life; third, because although they took my all, it wasn't much. And fourth because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.'" [Servant, Jan 1994. Page 15.]

I love that story about Matthew Henry. You can see in this diary entry that Henry had a heart of gratitude in the worst of circumstances. No wonder God used Him to write a commentary that has been used by preachers, teachers and Christians in general for all these years.

The story is told of a gifted preacher who suffered a nervous breakdown. During one of his periods of extreme anxiety, a friend told him that with the Lord's help he could overcome his depression. The key was to practice thanksgiving. He suggested that the minister think of all the people who'd had a special influence upon his life over the years. Then he asked, "Did you ever thank any of them?" The downhearted man confessed that he couldn't recall ever doing so. His friend challenged him to think of one person and write to him, expressing his appreciation, The pastor took his advice, and when he learned that his letter had greatly encouraged the recipient, his heart was lightened. So he jotted down the names of all those who had helped him. Before exhausting his list, he had written about 500 letters. As he counted his blessings, the cloud of despondency began to lift. Realizing that the Savior had been showering him with encouragement through these individuals, his thoughts turned heavenward. Soon he began blessing God daily for His love and goodness. He not only overcame his sadness but helped 500 others to be cheerful and uplifted. You see that thanksgiving can make a tremendous difference in your mental wellbeing.

I challenge you to keep a “thanksgiving” journal for one year of your life. Everyday write at least one thing for which you are thankful that day. It may be a simple walk you take, a special smile of a loved one or friend, the sun shining upon you, or the rain falling on the earth - but find at least one thing for which you are thankful and write it down. Then each day, read the previous entries. By the end of the year your entire life could be changed as you begin to understand just how blessed you are. Your eyes will be uplifted, your heart will be eased, your joy will be multiplied and your usefulness in family and faith will be increased tremendously.

Now, note thirdly ...

III. The Spiritual Benefit of Thanksgiving

  • Thanksgiving causes us to enter the presence of the Lord.

Does God not tell us to "enter into His gates with thanksgiving!" Yes, He does. In fact, it is difficult to come into the true presence of God without two attitudes - one is awe and the other is gratitude.

  • Thanksgiving routs the enemy.

In Acts 16 we read about Paul and Silas in the prison at Philippi. They had been falsely arrested, illegally beaten and horribly chained in the deepest part of the prison. What did they do? They praised God in prayer and song. God sent an earthquake which rocked the prison and caused a Roman guard to attempt the taking of his own life. Paul stopped the man and led him to faith in Jesus. Paul and Silas were released from prison after the guard and his entire household had been saved. The enemy holding Paul and Silas was routed, yes even redeemed, through praise and thanksgiving. Complaining in the prison would not help, but thanksgiving and praise changed everything. You can grapple with the devil while your grumbling with the Lord!

  • Thanksgiving aides our prayers.

Thanksgiving helps make our deeds acceptable to God. Look at Colossians 3:17, “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.” Do you see there what God said? The Lord instructs us in His Word to do whatever we do with thanksgiving in Jesus name. Why? Whatever we do with our hearts filled with gratitude will have better results than that which is done with a sour spirit. When you look like you were baptized in pickle juice it is difficult to carry out an effective work for the Lord.

Note that even Jesus gave thanks prior to various miracles. He thanked the Father before breaking the bread to feed the 5,000. He thanked the Father before He called Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, from the tomb. He thanked the Father in the Upper Room before instituting the Lord's Supper, which signified the death He would die for our sins. Jesus is our example of praying victoriously in trying circumstances.

  • Thanksgiving keeps us from many evils.

Look at Romans 1:21: "...because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." A lack of gratitude led many to a life of evil and foolish behavior. Being thankful to God with a pure heart, on the other hand, can keep us from such things.

See 2 Timothy 3:1-2: "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, " Did you notice there that unthankfulness was part of the problem among this list of evildoers? Unthankfulness is listed right there with greedy, bragging, proud, cursing, unholy people. Now, that ought to get your attention. The unthankful tend to walk around with a very unruly crowd.

A man once kept a daily account of his service for the Lord along with the blessings he received in return. In one column he listed what he did for God; in another what the Lord did for him. When he recovered from an illness, he put that down. If a friend helped or cheered him, that too was noted. All the favors and mercies he experienced were carefully recorded. But he gave up after just a few days of bookkeeping. "It's no use," he said, "I can never get these columns to balance. I am always hopelessly in debt!" Yes, God's benevolence far outweighs anything we can ever do for Him.


Thankfulness? God said to do it, and we ought to do it because He said so. But, that is the wrong attitude to obeying God. We love Him, therefore we obey Him. But thanksgiving offers something even more special and God knew that when He ordered us to practice it. When we practice thankfulness, it blesses us. The more we do it, the more we want to. The more we want to, the more we see that God deserves it. The more we see that God deserves it, the more we desire to express it. The More we express it, the better our health becomes, the better our mind becomes, and the better our spiritual life becomes. Power follows in the path of gratitude. It is as if the Holy Spirit of God rushes in where praise and thankfulness to God are expressed, and there God's power is revealed and released. Let me put like this, the unthankful Christian is a disobedient, miserable, grochy, unhappy, sickly sight. And to top it all, the unthankful Christian hinders the kingdom of God.

Now, let me ask you a question: Rate your complaints each day with your thankfulness each day. How does the balance sheet look? I did it. I decided to do more thanksgiving and so should you. Let's start today. Let's start during this invitation.