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Pastoral 2013

The Philosophy of Thanksgiving


The article below is written by the late Rev Dr Timothy Tow, the founding pastor of Bible-Presbyterian churches in Singapore and Malaysia. Rev Tow was a man of thanksgiving. Very often, I heard him say, “Praise the Lord.” He often urged his church and his students in FEBC to cultivate a thankful spirit before the Lord. He would always call the church anniversary meeting “Thanksgiving Service”.

As we prepare for our Silver Jubilee Thanksgiving Service and Dinner, which will be held this Saturday evening, I pray that we will come together with a genuine heart of thanksgiving. May this article teach all of us to come before the Lord with a biblical spirit of thanksgiving – Pastor Koshy



Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

Giving thanks to God is a characteristic of Christians. The first thing in the morning that we do is to thank God for His safe keeping in the night. We say “grace”, i.e. “thanks” before our three meals. When we go to bed at night, we take time to thank the Lord for that day’s provision. For this reason, Paul exhorts: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

What is the philosophy of thanksgiving?

According to Psalm 103, thanksgiving should, first of all, arrest our forgetfulness. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (verse 2). How human it is to forget – not the wrong of

others, but their good! And as to God’s goodness? How many a vow uttered in groaning illness, in the throes of writhing pain, in dark moments of grim danger or haunting fear are forgotten on the morrow of deliverance! How many a Calvinistic Christian is obliviously slumbering in his armchair of salvation! Forgetfulness of God’s mercies is a sin of omission.

Thanksgiving is
a rebuke to the

Secondly, thanksgiving is a rebuke to the ungrateful. These are the people who take the blessings of God for granted. These belong to the “familiarity-breedscontempt” class. Once, there were ten lepers cleansed as they were on their way to see the priests according to Jesus’ word (Luke 17:11-19). Only one, a Samaritan who was an alien, returned to thank the Lord at His feet. “Were there not ten cleansed?” asked the Saviour, “but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” Ingratitude occupies not a few pews in every church today! It seems she is harboured in the hearts of old-timers more than in the newly-converted. The ungrateful serve the Lord with their pout than with their purse. Truly, none of us can escape from the sin of unthankfulness. Let us heed the Chinese saying, “Let those who drink the water think of its source.”

Thanksgiving should isolate the
downright insolent, nominal
members of the Church.

Thirdly, thanksgiving should isolate the downright insolent, nominal members of the church. These are they who have grown rich and powerful under the aegis of devout parents, like Esau under the benignity of his father Isaac. These, who have never thanked the Lord from the heart on an occasion for thanksgiving, demand rather that the Lord thank them! What travesty of Christian logic! Once, a poor country pastor approached a big town elder for a donation to his church building fund. Because this servant of God did not flatter and fawn, the self-esteeming elder told him off, “Here’s $50, for that’s all you are worth. Take it or leave it.” Did the elder realise that in so doing, he was not insulting man but God? “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me” (Luke 10:16). “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23, 24).

Thanksgiving isl
the delight of thel

Thanksgiving is the delight of the humble. He worshipfully brings his gift into the Lord’s storehouse. He also hears the Lord pronounce blessings upon his children and children’s children since he trusts the Lord with godly fear and has striven to keep His covenant and commandments. Since the day that the Lord gave him a job, he has not forgotten to budget the tithe first for his God. He gives thanks not once a year only, but upon every occasion of receiving goodness at His hand.