Ten years ago, I heard someone say, "Thanks is the only thing you can give to God that He didn't give you first." At the time, I thought that was fairly profound. But then I made a discovery.
The Greek word for "grace" is also the word for "thanks" (Greek CHARIS). Some related Greek words are EUCHARISTIA (thankfulness, the giving of thanks - 15 occurrences in the NT), EUCHARISTEO (to be grateful, feel thankful - 39 occurrences in the NT), and EUCHARISTOS (thankful, mindful of favors - one occurrence). Notice that each of these words contains the root, CHARIS (this word is translated 130 times in the NASB as "grace," and 11 times as some form of "thank-").
So, while the thought that we can give God something He didn't give us first is pithy-sounding, it is in reality nothing more than a religious cloak placed on the proud affirmation of a race that desperately wants to take credit for the genius of its majestic Creator. Even gratitude doesn't start with us; it's just the flip side of grace. Every grace package comes with a thankful response inside, like a self-addressed, postage-paid "business reply" card. We can't take any credit for it, but when we send it back we are telling God we received His gift. And we're requesting a lifetime subscription. Everything's paid for already - even the thankful attitude. Like faith and joy and love, it doesn't originate with us.
Every good thing that is given to us, as well as every evil thing that is used for our good (per Romans 8:28), is a gift of grace. Gratitude is the response of a heart that knows this. It is grace received and acknowledged, to the glory of God. For from Him, and to Him, and through Him are ALL THINGS.
There's nothing you or I can give to God, which He did not first give to us. Nothing.
You and I probably have a pile of those reply cards stashed away somewhere (try looking under your favorite collection of bitter complaints, they might be buried underneath). Let's drop those cards in the mail.
O Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.