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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all manner of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.

Psalm 107:17-22, New King James Version

The preceding passage foretells the good news of salvation and how believers should respond to God’s goodness towards them. As I read it, the final verse stands out to me. We are to sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving. What are these sacrifices of thanksgiving and why do they matter today?

In the Old Testament, God commanded numerous sacrifices for different purposes. Additionally, He established procedures for freewill offerings. These are offerings that God did not command, but people could choose to give of their own free will. The sacrifice of thanksgiving is one such offering.

There are two noteworthy things about a sacrifice. First, sacrifices have a cost. Sacrificing means giving up something you would otherwise be able to enjoy or put to good use. When you sacrifice, you are giving up something that is yours for some other purpose. Sacrifices always come at a cost, whether you pay with comfort, health, money, time, or some other resource.

Second, sacrifices speak for themselves. Theologian Robert Tuck pointed out that the Old Testament sacrifices were “silent acts” which have their own voices and require no explanations. When people brought sacrifices to the priest, they did not need to explain why. The priest understood that some act of God had made them thankful. Their sacrifices expressed their gratitude to God.

To be clear, there is no such thing as silent or unexpressed thanksgiving, but there are ways to demonstrate your gratitude besides talking. The sacrifice of thanksgiving serves exactly that purpose. It communicates your gratitude to God and glorifies Him just like your praises do. The sacrifice of thanksgiving, or thank offering, costs you something and it expresses your gratitude to God.

The custom of giving thank offerings continued in the New Testament. Throughout Jesus’ life, people gave Him offerings. They did not do this because He commanded it, because He needed it, to get a blessing, or because they were tithing. They gave out of overflowing gratitude.

Matthew 2:11 says that the magi worshiped Jesus by giving Him offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts certainly came at a great cost. But they also expressed the wise men’s gratitude to Jesus for coming to Earth. By presenting these gifts, the magi sacrificed the sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Similarly, Luke 7:37-38 tells of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet at Bethany. She entered a Pharisee’s home and poured expensive perfume all over Jesus’ feet. Nobody asked her to do this. In fact, some people wanted to stop her. Among other things, they were concerned about how much this expensive perfume cost. However, she was so thankful that she felt compelled to use it to thank Jesus for His earthly ministry. This woman also sacrificed the sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Just like the magi thanked Jesus for coming to earth and the woman with the expensive perfume thanked Him for His earthly ministry, you can also thank Jesus for His suffering, death, and resurrection. Your sacrifice of thanksgiving should cost you something and communicate your gratitude to your Savior. As you prepare to celebrate the resurrection, make plans to do so by sacrificing the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Give your best gift to express your gratitude for God’s best gift, the suffering, death, and resurrection of His precious Son, Jesus Christ.


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