Bible Lens—Thanksgiving

Subject: Thanksgiving


Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.…Be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psalms 100:1, 4

Exploring Bible Verses

An exploration of Bible citations from the Christian Science Quarterly® Bible Lessons

“. . . a lesson on which the prosperity of Christian Science largely depends."—Mary Baker Eddy

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from Section 1

1 | Psalms 50:14

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.

Expressing thanks from the heart, this verse implies, is genuine sacrifice. “The highest type of sacrifice which man is able to bring to God,” writes a scholar, “is a heart grateful for all His love. That feeling of gratitude must find expression in ways additional to the offerings laid upon the altar.”

5 |Luke 12:34

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Jesus frequently quoted or originated aphorisms—brief, vivid, memorable statements that expressed universal truths—to convey his message. In addition to the one here, some others are:

  • “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).
  • “Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
  • “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6).
  • “Cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42).

from Section 2

8 |Isaiah 58:8

Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. 

This prophecy borrows a military term for its word picture. In earlier Old Testament writing, a rereward is described as the rear guard of an army or a ceremonial procession (see examples in I Samuel 29:2 and Joshua 6:9). Several translations use “rear guard” instead of rereward, and some researchers identify it with the divine pillar of cloud that protected the flank of the Israelites from the Egyptian army in the Exodus (see Exodus 14:19). One source has, “My presence will protect you on every side.”

8 |Isaiah 58:11

The Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones.

The phrase “make fat thy bones” doesn’t allude to increasing flesh, but describes God’s strengthening activity. Most translators view it in terms of renewing or restoring strength, or of fortifying the frame of the body.

from Section 3

9 |Jeremiah 32:41

I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.

A commentator writes of this promise, “The God who covenants with Israel can break out of all conventions and overcome all seeming constraints … to effect a new reality, to turn punishment into redemption, devastation into good, danger and oppression into safety and security.” This power, he continues, is not simply over enemy armies, but “through and over hard hearts.... And it is a power for good.”

14 |John 15:10

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Abide (Greek, menō) means not only to remain or dwell, but also to continue or endure—as in these statements by the Master: “If ye continue [menō] in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31) and “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth [menō] unto everlasting life” (John 6:27).

14 |John 15:11

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Christ Jesus speaks of joy several times in his farewell address to the disciples—promising, for instance, not only full but permanent happiness (see John 16:22).  

Early Christians did indeed find joy in their work and in each other, and spoke of it often: “We … joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ;” “My joy is the joy of you all;” “Rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (Romans 5:11; II Corinthians 2:3; I Peter 1:8). Luke’s account of the disciples’ response after Paul and Barnabas were persecuted at Antioch sums up the Christian disposition: “The disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:52).

About Colossae and its church

Golden Text, Colossians 3:15 

Located northwest of Jerusalem and about 100 miles (160 km) east of Ephesus, Colossae—together with the cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis—was located near a major road between Ephesus and the Euphrates River. The strategic position of the three cities made them prime areas for the establishment of Christianity. Colossae was long known for the woven and dyed woolens from the luxurious black wool of its sheep, but its economic prosperity—and geographic importance—declined over time. 

Although there was a sizable Jewish population at Colossae, its Christian church was largely Gentile. Some sources believe that the church was founded by one of Paul’s fellow workers, and that it is one of the only churches he neither established nor visited.

The epistle to the Colossian Christians communicates the concern that they are being led astray by heretical teachings. To counter this, the writer talks repeatedly about the nature and inclusiveness of Christ Jesus’ teachings, their need to express thanksgiving in worship, and the demand to strengthen their unity in Christ.

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Resources quoted in this issue

Cit. 1: Cohen, Rev. Dr. A. The Psalms: Hebrew Text & English Translation with an Introduction and Commentary. New York: Soncino Press, 1977. 

Cit. 8: Good News Translation in Today’s English Version—Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.

Cit. 9: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 6, Introduction to Prophetic Literature, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996–2001.

Related Healing Ideas

Perpetual thanksgiving

By L. Ivimy Gwalter
From the November 22, 1947, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.... Come before his presence with singing.... Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Ps. 100:1, 2, 4).

Now, thanksgiving is more than lip service. An assertion of gratitude while the heart is filled with hatred, resentment, dissatisfaction, doubt, or fear is far from real thanksgiving. What healing and transformation we should witness if the whole world were to send up a paean of praise to the Giver of all good, and were to abide in the acknowledgment that nothing but what expresses God, good, is real, or ever has been real! 

True worship is based upon the scientific starting point that Spirit, namely, God and His idea, is All, and that there is no other power, mind, or being but the power, Mind, and Being which is God. There never has been a moment when aught but God was real, never a moment when there existed a creation which could lapse into evil, or a man who could die. God, Spirit, who is infinite Life, Truth, Love, is the only creator, and there is but one creation, spiritual, whole, perfect, free. The man of God’s creating is wholly spiritual, the forever expression of Life, without beginning and without end. Man lives because God is his Life; he loves because he reflects divine Love; he is because God is his Soul, origin, and substance. He cannot fall from perfection or be separated from good. He has no consciousness but that which is good, no Mind but God, no life but divine Life. His purity is unassailable, his harmony is uninvadable, his individuality is one with divine Principle, his identity is the reflection of Soul. 

Man is established in Mind, subject alone to the law of Mind. He is not a finite recipient of divine favor, but exists as the very expression and evidence of the affluence of Love, the continuity of Life, and the integrity of Truth. His harmony and well-being are as invariable as the Principle which governs him.

Let us then truly “enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise,” not as finite mortals giving thanks to a Deity from whom we are seeking favor, not through material fasting or feasting, but through scientific acknowledgment and demonstration of the oneness of Principle and its idea. In Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 Mary Baker Eddy says: “It has long been a question of earnest import, How shall mankind worship the most adorable, but most unadored,—and where shall begin that praise that shall never end? Beneath, above, beyond, methinks I hear the soft, sweet sigh of angels answering, ‘So live, that your lives attest your sincerity and resound His praise’ ” (p. 106).

Real thanksgiving pierces the veil of materialism. It refutes material sense with spiritual sense, personal sense with the truth of spiritual identity, and corporeal sense with the incorporeal nature of being. Gratitude is spiritual. It discerns, acknowledges, and demonstrates the Life that is God. Thus may our Thanksgiving season be perpetual as with Paul we reiterate, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

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© 2018 The Christian Science Publishing Society. The design of the Cross and Crown is a trademark owned by the Christian Science Board of Directors and is used by permission. Bible Lens and Christian Science Quarterly are trademarks owned by The Christian Science Publishing Society. Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

First appeared as a Web Original on September 19, 2018

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