teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name... psalm 86:11

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a sacrifice of thanks...

I’m learning that gratefulness is something that needs to be cultivated… intentionally and aggressively. I’ve had seasons where being thankful came easily and naturally. But then I’ve had seasons where living in gratitude felt forced and insincere. We always talk about getting to a place where our faith isn’t based on the circumstances around us, but rather on the character and promises of God. Well, I want to be at a place of gratitude that is not circumstantial either. There’s always something to be thankful for.

It’s interesting to see how thankfulness is presented in the Bible. I hate to use the word demanded because the choice is always ours in what attitude we possess… but let’s just say that, in the New Testament anyways, it’s highly recommended. We read things like:

Let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15)
Always give thanks to God for everything (Eph 5:20)
Give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God’s will for you (1 Thes. 5:18)

I think the coolest depiction of gratitude, though, is how it is presented in the Old Testament. Giving thanks to God was done through making a sacrifice to Him at the temple of one of your best animals. I’ll spare you the graphic-ness of the process, but there really are some rich parallels between this Thanks Offering and cultivating thankfulness in our lives today. The animal being offered would be split up between what was burnt on the altar to God, what was given to the priests for food, and what the person making the offering would take back home with him. It was the only type of offering where you didn’t go home empty handed. You got something in return, and that something was meant to be shared with others. The one making the offering would take his portion back home and enjoy a meal afterwards with family and friends where the spirit of giving thanks to God would overflow and continue with everyone present.

Other than the animal being killed and all (praise God we don’t have to do THAT anymore!), sounds pretty kumbaya-ish, right?! But what about those seasons where saying thanks to God is painful and hard? When you don’t feel thankful? When life has the sting of bitterness? I love what one commentator said regarding the passage of Leviticus that describes these Thank Offerings-

“Notice this verse calls this the sacrifice of thanksgiving. We need to sometimes give a sacrifice of thanksgiving. There will be times when turmoil, doubts, or tragedy may rob us of our joy and we may not feel very thankful. But the thank-offering was to be a sacrifice to God. Sometimes we need to sacrifice to God- sacrifice pride, sacrifice emotions, sacrifice material goods, sacrifice time, sacrifice commitment. A sacrifice is not a sacrifice if it doesn’t cost us something.”

Being thankful really is a spiritual discipline, requiring effort and commitment. It may not be a literal sacrifice these days, but it’s a sacrifice nonetheless. That is why, with my birthday coming up, I’m challenging myself to begin year 29 in a spirit of fostering thanksgiving in my life. On my list I wanted to choose a month to write down 3 things every day I’m thankful for- so September is going to be the month. I would love it if people would join me at my table and share this meal with me for the month… lets encourage each other to have a perspective of gratitude, k?! We really do have so much to be thankful for…
I will post every Sunday my list of things I'm thankful for for the previous week... would love for others to join with me and share things they are thankful for too... whether its one thing or one hundred things! I just think it'd be a cool experience to share together... :)


  1. I will join you! I admit to days of forcing myself to find something to be thankful for because so many other things held my attention longer that I really was not too thrilled over. Somedays it is a challenge, but He is always faithful and worthy of our thanks!

    ~Jeri Meek

  2. Aw this is a wonderful idea! I want to join you. :) -Carissa