Jesus “gave thanks”. It seems unusual that the Creator of the universe would “give thanks”. After all, He is only thanking Himself. Yet He is modeling for us what we are to do with the things that are given to us. Recognize that “giving thanks” is not the end of the process; nor is it the beginning. Jesus first took the loaves and the fish, and then He gave thanks, and finally He shared what He had been given.
To give thanks, we must first receive something. After giving thanks, we must share what we are thankful for. Giving thanks is not the end. We must also pass on to others what we give thanks for. I think many believers are confused about love and giving. Perhaps our poor modeling is at fault. Many understand love as giving and receiving, but we have failed to grasp the fact that love is also obedience. The disciples obeyed Jesus and as a result they were able to give to others – bless others. We need to obey, take action on what God has given us. Actions and sacrifice are integral in giving thanks. Actions and sacrifice are inherent in glorifying Jesus and receiving blessing.
“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.’” John 14:23 Love is obedience.
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.” John 6:11 Love is giving.
In studying giving, I note that all of Paul’s statements on giving thanks are directed toward people or the Lord; not things, yet Jesus teaches us to pray for our daily bread (things). Jesus gives thanks just a few times in the Gospels; for the bread and the cup, the loaves and the fish, and to His Father for His Lordship and wisdom. Yet Jesus has a lot to say about giving – a lot. Clearly this is an essential practice for His disciples. Jesus teaches a couple of times on stewardship and giving wisely, yet many more times He tells us to give to whoever asks of us, and to give sacrificially.
As we consider giving thanks this week, remember two points. One, our giving needs to be generous. We should give more than we reasonably think we are able to give so that we keep ourselves dependent upon His provision and not our own abilities to earn income. And two, acquiring wealth is acceptable with God as long as we are stewarding that wealth to increase His glory and not for our personal comfort or safety.
I’d love to hear what God is teaching you on giving.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for other 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.