The Thankful Sacrifice

Something hit me today that I had never put together. I have been reading the Psalms in my personal quiet time. They are speaking powerfully to me as of late. I don’t know why now as opposed to previously. But I know that it has been just what I needed in my life. God is so faithful!

In Psalm 50, Asaph is writing a song outlining God’s conversations with faithful and unfaithful people. He says this to the faithful:

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
    and perform your vows to the Most High,

and call upon me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

Then God says this to the unfaithful:

“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
    lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!”

Both the faithful and unfaithful alike should be offering thanksgiving as their sacrifice to the Lord. In other words, we should be in the perpetual process of being thankful to the Lord for everything that is going on around us.

This “sacrifice of thanksgiving” must be pretty important. It sounds to me like this would be one of the critical parts of the sacrificial system. Would it surprise you to know that this wasn’t one of the required sacrifices? It is an optional part of our relationship with God. Even in the time of temple worship, the sacrifice of thanksgiving was merely a good suggestion.

The sacrifice of thanksgiving is talked about in Leviticus 7 and 22. While it is not a required sacrifice, there is certainly an assumption that it will take place. After all, how could you not be thankful to God?

Why is this “optional” sacrifice so important in Psalm 50? It seems to be the thing that God calls everyone to regardless of their thoughts on life, and it’s also the catalyst for opening up His blessings in our lives.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This passage from Romans 1 starts an entire diatribe on the process of societal degradation. Where do we fall apart being in culture? When we stop giving thanks to God. Maybe this whole thankfulness thing is really important.

I have a few ideas on how to start being more thankful:

  • Keep a thankfulness journal. Write five things every day that you are thankful for.
  • Begin the day by spending time thinking about whom you are thankful for. Tell them that same day.
  • End the day by making a few notes about what happened that you were thankful for.
  • Say thank you at the end of every interaction you have with people. Whether it’s the grocery store clerk or someone who made you dinner or your spouse, be thankful for everything that is happening around you.
  • Take 15 seconds to thank God every time something good happens in the day.

Maybe if enough people begin the process of being thankful, we could reshape our culture. Maybe rather than being critical and afraid of where culture is headed, we should be thankful for an opportunity to influence and shape it. Maybe if we were thankful for who our kids are or our spouse is rather than resentfully being critical of what they aren’t, we would radically bless our family.

Thankfulness is the antidote to greed and entitlement. Thankfulness is the cure for resentment. Thankfulness is the answer to materialism. Thankfulness matters — a lot!

May you always be thankful, and especially when you don’t feel like it.