“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” Tim Keller
“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“I like to think of thankfulness as God’s ‘spiritual air freshener.’ It replaces the stale odor of resentment with clean, fresh-smelling air for the soul to breathe.” Gary Thomas,
In addition to “no shave November” there are other challenges you might take on in this month. A couple personal ones are saying yes to pumpkin anything and downing as much Thanksgiving Blend coffee from Starbucks as possible (while it’s around). It’s a month of food and feasting, and that is certainly something I can give thanks for with a full heart (and stomach)!
Beyond that, I’ve also found it a month worth focusing on the gospel-posture of giving thanks. Thanksgiving retunes our hearts towards gratitude to God, worship of God, and joy in God. I need more of this in my life. You? I need giving thanks to become a regular rhythm rather than an occasional add-on. For that reason, I’m hoping to not only eat pumpkin pie to the glory of God this November but I also want to cultivate the practice of giving thanks. (See the post, A Theology of Thanksgiving, for more on the why and how of giving thanks to God.)
My proposal is to take a 30-day challenge to cultivate a heart of gratitude and the rhythm of giving thanks. The goal is to both meditate on the Bible’s emphasis of giving thanks and intentionally practice it. Our objective isn’t only to be thankful for God’s gifts but to grow in loving and knowing God as the giver of every gift. The Challenge consists of a few elements for each day. If a four-part challenge seems scary, pick 2-3 things and run with it.
- Read and meditate on the Bible verses about giving thanks. See below for a 30-day list.
- As you read from God’s Word about gratitude, include a prayer of thanksgiving to God for something you’ve learned about who God is, what he’s done for you, or the gifts He’s given to you.
- During the day, intentionally look for things God is doing for which you can give thanks. Or, think through how you can give thanks in each circumstance (Eph. 5:20). At the end of the day, either as you eat dinner (supper, if you’re in the South) or as you go to bed, include giving thanks not only for God’s provision of your meal but for specifics from the day. This doesn’t always have to be directly “spiritual.” One day you might thank God for the forgiveness given through Christ and the next day you might thank God for good football. Not all gifts are equally valuable but all gifts can be a source of thanksgiving.
- Thank one person each day for something they’ve done for you or something you appreciate about them. An attitude of gratitude rather than grumbling must be cultivated, both in our human relationships and in our relationship with God.
Below are thirty passages focusing on gratitude and thanksgiving to read this month. As you read them, notice how God is being thanked, what he’s being thanked for, how that gratitude is expressed, and the results of giving thanks. Let it lead you into seeing God at work in your own life and thanking him for it.
Day 1: Psalm 136
Day 2: Psalm 9:1-14
Day 3: Luke 17:11-19
Day 4: 1 Chronicles 16:8-36
Day 5: 1 Chronicles 29:10-22
Day 6: Colossians 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15-17; 4:2
Day 7: Philippians 4:4-9
Day 8: Psalm 28
Day 9: Luke 22:14-23
Day 10: Psalm 30
Day 11: John 6:11, 23; 11:41
Day 12: Colossians 1:3-14
Day 13: Daniel 2:17-23; 6:10
Day 14: Psalm 95
Day 15: Psalm 100
Day 16: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Day 17: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Day 18: Psalm 104
Day 19: Jeremiah 33:1-11
Day 20: Psalm 107:1-22
Day 21: Isaiah 12
Day 22: Psalm 118
Day 23: 1 Corinthians 15:35-57
Day 24: Psalm 145
Day 25: Acts 27:33-38; John 6:11; 1 Tim. 4:3
Day 26: Psalm 138
Day 27: Luke 2:27-38
Day 28: Romans 6:15-23
Day 29: Psalm 147
Day 30: Revelation 4:1-11; 7:9-17