Are You Full of Thanks or Just Full?

Are You Full of Thanks or Just Full? November 21, 2023

View down on Thanksgiving dinner table with turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.
A Thanksgiving table is full of food to fill up diners. [Courtesy Pro Church Media on Unsplash.]
The arrival of Thanksgiving provides Americans the opportunity to stuff themselves as well as turkeys. But in between mouthfuls of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, Christians should ask themselves a very important question—one which does not relate to second helpings. That query is “Are you full of thanks or just full?”

Having a table laden with delectable food and a stomach full of Thanksgiving dinner is, of course, a wonderful thing. But what about our hearts? Are they full of gratitude? Should believers enjoy the abundance bestowed upon them by God but fail to express thanks for their many blessings? Psalms alone references “give thanks” twenty times, so the answer is a resounding “No!” Instead, we should follow the psalmist’s example in Psalm 9:1 (NIV), “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart.”

A Formula for Giving Thanks

Giving thanks may be hard for some because they have never developed a habit of doing so and are unsure how to express gratitude. A simple formula, TSRF, helps to develop a way to give thanks or to do so in a more effective manner. These four letters stand for Timing, Specificity, Regularity, and Focus. Each letter represents an important facet of expressing thanks.

T is for Timing

While an expression of thanks is always appreciated, belated thanks seem diluted in sincerity. If truly thankful for what you receive, won’t you speak up right away? Timing matters, and the sooner thanks are given, the better.

Let’s say you give a grandchild $100 for their birthday in March. At Thanksgiving, the grandchild remarks, “Oh, by the way, Gram, thanks for my birthday money.” That gratitude would seem less heartfelt than an excited call on the grandchild’s birthday saying she’d just opened her birthday card and is thrilled to receive that money. Perhaps this gives a clue how God might feel at Thanksgiving when we tell Him how thankful we are for all He’s done for us this year.

The time to express thanks is immediately upon receipt of something. When I was growing up, my parents made me write a thank you note for any present received for a birthday, Christmas, or any other occasion before I could utilize the gift. Want to wear that beautiful sweater? Write a thank you note for it.

Thank you note on table with person's right hand holding pen next to it.
Immediately writing thank you notes expresses sincere thanks. [Picture courtesy Pixabay]
Do the same when it comes to God’s gifts. Thank Him for providing you with a safe trip home during terrible weather as you pull into the driveway. Express your appreciation for His blessing you financially when your credit card is approved as you purchase groceries for your family. Tell Him of your gratitude for shelter when you wake up and hear rain pouring down outside.

S is for Specificity

Be specific as to what you received when you thank someone. Doing so indicates sincerity as opposed to a short “Thanks” or “I appreciate the gift.” Tell your co-worker, ‘Thanks for giving me a ride home. I know you had to drive out of your way to assist me.”

Give God the same attention. Provide details when expressing gratitude to Him. Instead of merely saying, “Thanks for a safe trip,” mention your appreciation He helped you to find a gas station in a safe location in an unfamiliar place.” While the expression of gratitude is pleasing to God, it also strengthens your own faith as you see more clearly the specific things God does for you daily.

R is for Regularity

We give thanks at Thanksgiving because that is the point of the holiday. Nevertheless, Thanksgiving is not the only time in the year to express gratitude. Expressing thanks should be a regular, daily habit. Making this consistency easier is if you thank God as soon as you recognize He’s done something for you, you will be thanking Him often.

Intentionally cultivating an attitude of gratitude strengthens your relationship with God. Communicating with Him often to express thanks, your relationship deepens and grows. Aside from faith benefits, gratitude offers other positives in our lives. Research indicates it assists us in dealing with adversity, can help us feel more positive, and improves our health.

F is for Focus

If you believe it would be difficult to find things to thank God for daily, your focus is too narrow. God is not only concerned  with the big things in your life—do you have food, shelter, and health. How do we know? Because Paul instructed the Thessalonians to pray “continually.” Use of the word “continually” means God cares about ALL that is going on in your life and wants to hear from you about it.

A story my friend told in a church small group opened my eyes to what to thank God about. This woman had an appointment, but he parking lot was full. She became anxious she would be late. Lifting a quick prayer, she noticed a car pulling out of a parking space right up front. She thanked God profusely for providing a convenient parking spot for her. Why not thank God for the little things? Did you score the last box of muffin mix at the store you needed for dinner? Thank Him!

Parking lot scene with all parking spaces filled
God cares about the little things, even our need for a parking space. [Picture courtesy Pixabay.]

A Non-Thanksgiving Challenge

Giving thanks is not difficult. The TSRF formula can help. Keep your eyes open as to what you could express gratitude for, and then do it in a timely and specific fashion. When Thanksgiving ends, challenge yourself to spend one day identifying how many different things you could thank God for. Then tell Him about your appreciation for His blessings big (health) and small (a parking spot). Continue this practice regularly. Be full of thanks and not just full.

About Alice H. Murray
After 35 years as a Florida adoption attorney, Alice H. Murray now pursues a different path as Operations Manager for End Game Press. With a passion for writing, she is constantly creating with words. Her work includes contributions to several Short And Sweet books, The Upper Room, Chicken Soup For The Soul, Abba’s Lessons (from CrossRiver Media), and the Northwest Florida Literary Review. Alice is a regular contributor to GO!, a quarterly Christian magazine in the Florida Panhandle, and she has three devotions a month published online by Dynamic Women in Missions. Her devotions have also appeared in compilation devotionals such as Ordinary People Extraordinary God (July 2023) and Guideposts’ Pray A Word A Day, Vol. 2 (June 2023) and pray a word for Hope (September 2023). Alice’s first book, The Secret of Chimneys, an annotated Agatha Christie mystery, was released in April 2023 with a second such book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, to be released in April 2025. On a weekly basis, Alice posts on her blog about current events with a humorous point of view at You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives