Thanksgiving really comes in two parts. The first part is thanks, the second part is giving. When Moses was instructing the Israelites regarding the observation of the holiday festivals, he said to them, “no one should appear before the Lord empty-handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you” (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). In the United States tradition this day is a holiday of celebration and good food. Well it should be! We might compare it to the “Thank offering” of the Old Testament. The celebration involved bringing their sacrifice to the Temple where the priests would take it and offering it to God on behalf of the worshiper. Parts of the sacrifice were shared in a meal by the family bringing it in a celebration of all that God had done for them in providing for their needs throughout the year.

In Psalm 116, the Psalmist celebrates how God had taken him through his struggles and provided for is needs, and protected him from pestilence and evil. In verse 17 he brings “a thank offering.” In verse 13 he speaks of the “drink offering” and calls it “the cup of salvation.” His calling out in the name of the Lord was not for deliverance but to say “thank you” to the Lord for keeping all His promises. When Jesus lifted up the bread at the last supper, He gave thanks and said “this is my body.” He was identifying himself as the offering. He then took the cup and blessed it also. The word for “bless” is the same word for “thanks” in the Greek New Testament. The church has historically named the practice of communion after this word. It is “Eucharist.” The Greek word eucharisto means to give thanks. It was in the offering of His body and His blood that Christ established the first experience of the Lord’s Supper. It should be instructive for us.

I’m sure that Paul had this in mind when he exhorted the Romans to “I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him” (Romans 12:1 NLT). I love the Amplified Bible’s version of Psalm 100. You may remember singing this psalm at some time. The crooner sings, “MAKE A joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before His presence with singing! Know that the Lord is God! It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.” Don’t forget the “giving” part of Thanksgiving!