Summary: Are you really thankful?
The third letter in our acronym ACTS stands for Thanks or Thanksgiving. The reason for many Christians being so ungrateful may relate back to the first two letters. If we are not confessing and adoring God we are not going to be thankful for what we have received and will not receive the fullness of God’s blessings thus missing more things about which to give thanks to God
In preparing this study, it was interesting to note that one of the Hebrew words for thanks towdah means an extension of the hand and if you go back through the derivatives to the root word it means the cupped open hollow palm of the hand indicating power, means, and direction. The main root can also mean to bow down. In that one word we can see worship.
The word worship means to prostrate yourself or literally kiss the ground so the Hebrews would bow and then would lift up their hands in the manner described. The symbolism is rich when you see that by lifting up the open palm they not only surrender their power, means and direction unto the Lord but also expect to receive those things from Him. This also helps us understand the New Testament injunction to lift up holy or sanctified hands that have surrendered these things to Him that we might receive His power, means and direction in our life. (1 Tim 2:8)
Therefore, true thanksgiving includes worship, surrender, humility, expectation, holiness and gratitude. True gratitude for the blessings of God expresses itself in the other actions not just in words of gratitude. We show our gratitude like we show our faith with actions not just words. (James 2:18)
The Greek word in the New Testament for thanks is eucharistia. This is where the Catholics get their word for the Lord’s Supper that they call the Eucharist. However, there is a great difference between their practice of the Mass and the biblical Lord’s Supper, but that is not our topic here. Eucharista means gratitude and come from the words eu or good and charizomai that means to grant as a favor. That favor may mean doing a kindness, but also can mean giving a pardon or delivering/saving someone. At the Lord’s Supper, we do actively remember what He has done for us and give thanks for that.
Looking at what all the Hebrew word entails we may have some insight on what eating and drinking unworthily really means at the Lord’s Supper. Note that the warning against this came to a Gentile Church (Corinth), which would not have all the history and understanding that a Jewish Church would have in this area. They appeared to consider the Lord’s Supper as a party or celebration and practiced it like they did any other party in that culture and got drunk. They also were uncharitable in distribution of food and some that had no pot were out of luck. Some may have also practiced gluttony in that they would stuff themselves and then regurgitate so that they could go and eat at another party or a Lord’s Supper at another home. They missed the boat entirely and needed the warning and education that Paul gave in I Corinthians 11. We are to celebrate our anticipation of His return and give thanks for what He has done, but in a holy way.
Let us look at some verses that show what thanksgiving includes.
2 Sam 22:50 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name. (KJV)
Look at the action involved as well as the location. Thanksgiving is to be given among the heathen. How often do the unsaved hear us give thanks among them? More often then not, we are cranky moaners and groaners that are depressing to be around. That kind of lure will not catch many fish. Many of my Black friends answer, "How are you?" with "Blessed!" That is good, but most folks have no clue as to what blessed means anymore. You can buy blessed air fresheners for your car and blessed candles and the like. We need to share more with the unsaved the things that God does for us spiritually as well as materially. If we emphasize only the material, they may see God as the cosmic slot machine that just gives us money and prizes rather than the God who loves us and molds us into His image.
Again we see adoration or worship here as we are to sing praises unto His name!! The phrase, sing praises, in Hebrew gives the idea of striking strings to include instruments with the singing, but not all of us can pick guitar. I play radio well, but that is it. However, we do have vocal chords and we speak of heart strings so when we have hearts full of praise and thanksgiving, the fingers of our soul do play both those sets of strings when we sing of all that He has done for us.