As the holiday season moves into the new year we might be tempted to look back and see all of the ways we are just thankful the year is over. Biblically speaking, giving thanks has less to do with our circumstances and more to do with God Himself. Thanks means to be grateful for or to give gratitude to something or someone. When we talk about giving thanks to God, do you know the ultimate reason we can give thanks? It is tempting to think we must have “things” or perfect circumstances to experience God’s blessings. Do we tend to praise God only when things are good? Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:57, tells us the main reason we celebrate thanksgiving, and it has nothing to do with how we feel.
The Meaning of “Thanks Be to God”
For Paul, giving thanks was an action, not a feeling. Sometimes we think we must feel good to give thanks, and often we are good at giving thanks when we are feeling positive. Throughout the Bible, God insists we be thankful in action, no matter how we feel. Listen to these commands:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 - “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Chronicles 16:34 - “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Psalm 35:18 - “I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.”
Although we might have a myriad reasons to give thanks, ultimately Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:57 to give thanks for this one reason: Victory in Christ! Victory in Christ has nothing to do with our circumstances, but it does affect our heart’s outlook.
Where Is the Command to Give Thanks in the Bible?
The command to give thanks for Christ’s victory is found in the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul is the author, and he was writing to a church in the city of Corinth. This city was filled with false teaching and division. Paul writes a very convicting letter to them. Paul warns against many things wrong in their church, but as he ends his letter he has some amazing encouragement!
Our passage today is found at the end of the letter. In this section, Paul has been talking about the resurrection of Christ. Although we celebrate Christ’s death because it paid the price for our sins, Paul reminds us the resurrection is the key to living a full Christian life! A victorious life is found in the fact that Christ arose! Death is defeated and we no longer have to face the penalty of sin when we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior.
What Is the Meaning behind 1 Corinthians 15:57?
The last section of 1 Corinthians 15 speaks about the mystery of our own resurrection. Paul admits he doesn’t know exactly how this will work, but we can trust God that we will be raised again on the last day. He says, “Then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”(1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
We might not understand all of this, but we can know the last truth in Paul’s words: “Death is swallowed up in victory” Our victory is found in Christ’s death and resurrection. The power of sin to destroy our souls has been beaten. Christ has overcome! This is reason enough to give thanks. Death does not have the final word. Death was our greatest enemy, but Christ defeated it.
Nothing can separate us from God, not even the last enemy, which is death. God says because of Christ’s resurrection we have hope! Think of the worst thing to ever happen to you. Now let this truth sink into your soul: you are never separated from God! Romans 8:35 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” The answer is NOTHING!
More Than Just Actions
The Greek word Paul uses for “thanks be” in this verse is “charis.” You might recognize this word as it means “grace” as well. It means “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, and loveliness.” Paul is telling us to give to God our favor. We are to hold God to the highest praise. That is what “give thanks” means. It means there is joy there.
As Christians, we know joy is more than a feeling of happiness. It is a state of the heart. Paul is telling the Christians that God deserves the “thanks.” This is not just an action on our part, but a heart bent. Yes, God commands us to give thanks, but another way to see 1 Corinthians 15:27 is to just recognize that thanks belongs to God.
It is not just the act of giving thanks, but recognizing this “thanks” or “gratitude” already belongs to God. Many other passages in scripture help to show us this as well. These verses remind us our hearts can always give thanks!
“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever. And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” Ezra 3:11
“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”Psalm 9:1
“For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”Romans 11:36
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Colossians 1:15
Why We Need to Give Thanks According to 1 Corinthians 15:57
According to Paul in his letters there are lots of reasons to give thanks. Look at all of the reasons Paul gives us for giving God thanks. As you read these verses, think: what did you do to deserve any of this? How does Christ play a role in these things?
1. We have deliverance from sin! “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)
2. We have God’s grace! “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 1:4)
3. God listens to our requests! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”(Philippians 4:6)
4. We share in Christ’s inheritance! “And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”(Colossians 1:12)
A Prayer of Thanks for Victory
Dear Father God who loves me so, I give you praise! Your glory shines throughout all of creation, but more so in Christ. In Your Son, whom you gave me so freely, is my reason to give you all of the thanks. I am so grateful for Christ and today I spend this moment giving you thanks. Like Paul, I rejoice in the victory in Christ. When my heart is heavy it is hard to give thanks, but you have proven faithful over and over again. I can look over my life and see the hardships, but I can see the good as well. I can see how you’ve worked in my life to give me good things; your love endures forever, and your will for me is to live forever with you in heaven. What victory you have given me!? Not only do I have peace in this life, a promise waiting for me in the future, but also the daily provisions. Thank you, Lord, for Christ. Thank you, Father, for salvation. Thank you, God, for victory! Amen.
Friend, as you move through your life you will experience many ups and downs. However, God has not left us alone.
Use our 30 Daily Devotionals for Thankfulness to refocus your life in gratitude to God! Save this PDF and share it with your loved ones!
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Sarah E. Frazer is a wife, mother, and writer who loves to strengthen and encourage the weary mom to connect with God so that she can replace feelings of discouragement, disillusionment, and disappointment with God’s daily peace. Sarah is the author of several Bible study resources found on her website, sarahefrazer.com/shop. Follow her on Instagram here and download her Psalms of Gratitude for free here.
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