I realized on Thursday that I’ve never studied out the words “thanks” or “thanksgiving,” so I decided to do a word study to find out what the Bible says about giving thanks. (All quotations are from the ESV.) I haven’t studied many of these passages in depth, so this is just a general survey. Here’s a rough outline of what I’ve learned.
General commands to give thanks
Replace evil speaking with giving thanks
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Instead of being anxious, pray and give thanks.
5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Pray and give thanks.
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving
See also Thessalonians 5:17-19.
Pray and give thanks for those in authority over you.
1 Timothy 2:1-2
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Remain faithful and continually give thanks.
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Not giving thanks is a sin.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 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. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools.