I have the brain of an engineer. Pretty
logical. Pretty linear. And as a teacher, I like to do things in
a certain order - start with the fundamentals and work your way
up from there. I didn't do that this time for this mini-series.
Usually, if you want to understand something, you would probably want to define it first, before talking about the when, where, why or how. Those things - the embodiment of the topic - are pretty much always dependent upon the definition. I went backwards this time because the definition of "thanks" could lead us down other paths and I didn't want you to get distracted.
Grace is the key. What is grace? Biblically - according to the Greek (Strong's G5485) - grace (charis) is defined by Strong's Concordance as: (a) grace, as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, (b) favor, (c) gratitude, thanks, (d) a favor, kindness. (Of the 157 times it's used in the New Testament, it is only translated as "thanks" 14 times.)
Giving thanks is only possible after recognizing grace
HELPS Word-Studies further clarifies charis (or xáris) by saying: preeminently used of the Lord's favor – freely extended to give Himself away to people (because He is "always leaning toward them").
Grace is a gift, blessing, favor, or kindness of God. It's not some invisible, mystical, undefinable thing. It always manifests itself in some way.
The recognition of that gift, blessing, favor, or kindness - by definition - is joy. Strong's G5479 is chara which is defined as joy. What's the root word there? Char (or xar). Grace. Joy is the recognition and awareness of God's grace. Once we see it, once we're aware of it, what should that lead us to?
Being thankful. Strong's G2168 - eucharisteó. What's the root in there? Char (or xar). (G2169 is the actual giving of thanks.) HELPS Word-Studies clarifies by saying: properly, acknowledging that "God's grace works well," i.e. for our eternal gain and His glory; to give thanks – literally, "thankful for God's good grace." First we internally (in our mind) acknowledge God's favor on us (G2168), then we externally (with our mouth) acknowledge His kindness (G2169).
First comes joy - the awareness of God's kindness to you. Next is thankfulness - the acknowledgement of God's favor towards you. The next step in the process? Rejoicing. Delighting in God's gift. It's Strong's G5463 - xairō. What's the root in there? Again, it's char (or xar). That delight is shown in our actions. Smiles, hugs, high-fives, fist-bumps, singing, dancing, clapping, shouting... praising God in some way.
The holiday season can be tough for a lot of people. They don't feel like they have a lot to be thankful for or joyful about. I get it. I totally understand. A lot of people say, "the Devil is in the details." I disagree. God is in the details. Look for the little things. When you look for Him, you'll find Him (Jeremiah 29:13, Proverbs 8:17). When you look for Him, you'll find life (Amos 4:5, John 14:6).