Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 24, 1953

Giving Thanks For The Giving

Harvey Pearson, Henryetta, Oklahoma

Writing under the above heading, Brother H. N. Howard tells us that "due to ignorance and thoughtlessness" some of our brethren are giving thanks "for the 'privilege' of giving." We are told, "the practice of 'Giving Thanks' for the offering is pure sectarianism and has been borrowed from that fraternity by preacher's seeking to improve on the common, unpretentious services of the church." I would like to inquire of Brother Howard whether or not he believes that the adoption of a practice originating with or practiced by sectarians makes the practice itself sectarian. He tells us also that, "Sectarian preachers invented the practice as a sort of psychological 'gold digging' to make their parishioners" give more. Could not the same thing be said about the passing of the collection plate "to the individual" instead of letting him put his money in the box? Some might say that "with all eyes upon him" the individual would "feel compelled to give" something. Question: Who invented this practice and "who" borrowed it?

Brother Howard seems to make a definite distinction between "prayer" and "giving thanks." "Prayer is a petition to God for things we want. We 'give thanks' for blessings received." Would Brother Howard who claims to "speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent," give us scripture to prove the above statement? Paul said, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy." (Phil. 1:3-41 Then again, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Phil 4:6) From these verses it seems that the Bible teaches that "giving thanks" is included in "prayer."

The above distinction was made in order that Brother Howard might write these questions and statements. "If we pray before passing the plate for the collection, for what shall we pray? There should be something we desire else why pray at that particular time? Or, if we 'give thanks' at this time, for what shall we give thanks?" In reading the account of Christ instituting the Lord's Supper we are told that Christ "gave thanks." (Matt. 26:27; Luke 22:17) Brother Howard, what did Christ "give thanks" for? The cup for which Christ gave thanks was not to be used for the nourishment of the body to sustain physical life, was it? Was Christ thanking God for the physical nourishment which came from this cup? Was he thanking God for a sacrifice that was to be made which would give to mankind the hope of life eternal? Inform the "ignorant," Brother Howard. Remember though, that you have already informed us that "Jesus, when about to make the supreme sacrifice, prayed that the cup might pass from Him." I am sure that we will agree that the cup which Jesus prayed might pass from Him was a cup of sorrows. Yet shortly before, He "gave thanks" for the cup which He said, "is my blood of the new Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins?' (Matt. 26:28)

"'Giving is not a privilege, it is a duty.' A privilege is an advantage granted that a person can use, or not use, as he sees fit. A duty is binding. A person can waive a privilege without guilt, but a duty he cannot avoid without guilt!" I detect in this paragraph of Brother Howard's an implication that we "give thanks" for privileges ONLY. It also appears that we are informed that a duty cannot be a privilege. If so be that this is true then I must acknowledge that a "Christian life" is either a privilege and not a duty, or a duty and not a privilege. I must acknowledge that "partaking of the Lord's supper" is either a duty and therefore not a privilege, or a privilege (which I can waive without guilt) and not a duty. If partaking of the Lord's Supper is a duty, then I should not "give thanks" for it, according to our learned brother. Tell us more.

Brother Howard can even inform the Psalmist. Brother Howard says, "In all 'real giving' there is a sacrifice, and no man is thankful that duty requires a sacrifice." The Bible says, "And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing." (Ps. 107:22) "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." (Heb. 13:15) Here is a duty that requires sacrifice and we are to "give thanks" in performing it. Perhaps at this point we should ask Brother Howard to tell us what sacrifice means.

I believe in "giving thanks" for the duty and privilege of giving. Why? I am thankful for blessings received and the Bible speaks saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)

Brother Howard asks, "What do you think?" What I "think" and what others "think" are hobbies.