Why Give Thanks?

What is a self-made man? A self-made man is one who achieves great things by his own hard work, ingenuity, and commitment. He isn’t given a great position; he earned it. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon considered himself one of the greatest self-made men in history. As Nebuchadnezzar looked over his kingdom, he enjoyed the things that he had accomplished. Daniel 4:29-30 says, “At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” Nebuchadnezzar claimed preeminence as the self-made king of Babylon.
So why give thanks? If we work hard and develop ourselves and earn what we have, why stop and give thanks at this time of the year? Why thank God when we may feel that we are self-made? We must thank God because we are not self-made. The blessings and good things that we have in life are a gift from God. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Every good and perfect gift comes from God. That was true in James’ day, and it is true in our day, because God does not change. God has no variableness or shadow of turning. God does not change, and so He continues to give all good gifts that we may have.
Nebuchadnezzar was not the self-made man that he thought that he was. Daniel 4:31-32 says, “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” Nebuchadnezzar claimed to be self-made in his pride. But God taught him a very direct lesson when God took the kingdom away from him for seven years. Nebuchadnezzar needed to learn that God is ultimately supreme in the universe, and that God had made him king. He may have thought he did it in his own strength, but God had given him the kingdom, and God could take it away just as easily. Because of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, he took the credit for what God had done. Instead, he should have given God the honor and thanks that God truly deserves.
God warned Israel against this same temptation to self-sufficiency. When they were about to enter the Promised Land, God repeatedly exhorted Israel to remember Him. They needed to remember that He was giving them the land and that they did not deserve it. Deuteronomy 8:10 says, “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.” God told Israel to remember to bless Him and thank Him for the good things that He had given to them. They were in danger of forgetting. Deuteronomy 8:11-14 says, “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Israel faced a great danger that they might forget that the Lord had brought them out of Egypt and given them this land. If they forgot that the Lord did this, then they would soon think that they had earned it themselves. Deuteronomy 8:17 says, “And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.” But they hadn’t earned this land, just as Nebuchadnezzar hadn’t earned his kingdom. God had given it to them, and they needed to remember the Lord and give Him thanks.
The same is true of us. We have many great blessings that we can enjoy. We may not always like the way things are done in our country, but we live in a country where we can enjoy freedoms that most throughout history could only dream of. We have the opportunity for good jobs and good houses. We have the opportunity to have a family. We have the opportunity to buy good things for ourselves. We may not have as much money as we want and as many possessions as we want, but we do have much more wealth than most people in the world. We can enjoy all those wonderful blessings, but the temptation can be to think that we are self-made. We can begin to think that we have earned everything that we have and that we deserve to have more. But every good and perfect gift comes from God, and we must never forget that. In this time of Thanksgiving, we must always remember that the gifts we have are from God, and we must give Him the proper honor and thanks that He deserves for them.
–Pastor Tim



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