Charles Dickens said that we are somewhat mixed up here in America. He told an audience that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year, we should have 364.
“Use that one day just for complaining and griping,” he said. “Use the other 364 days to thank God each day for the many blessings He has showered upon you.”
As Christians, God commands us to be characterized by a life-style of thanks to Him. This is because of the transformation that happens in us whenever we choose to be thankful to Him. Did you know that thanksgiving to God is essential to having peace in our hearts?
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
And did you know that thanksgiving is essential to enjoying the kind of fellowship with one another as Christians that God wants us to enjoy?
“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body - and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-15)
The “peace of God” Paul speaks of, is a peace in our relationships with one another and thankfulness to God for one another is essential to that peace. The holiday (holy-day) of Thanksgiving is this Thursday. We can hardly wait for the holiday from work so we can labor at the “cornucopia of digestible delights.” And yet, I wonder how many people will be struggling to feel thankful.
- People who have lost their job or even their homes and are forced to relocate their families.
- People who have loved ones in the military and haven’t seen them for months or even years.
- People with failing health or those who have had loved ones die.
Maybe people like these are thinking, “What do I have to be thankful for?”
Maybe you have caught yourself asking that very same question.
Oh, you’ll do the turkey thing. You’ll try to stay awake for the football game afterwards. You’ll even get up early to fight the crowds at the stores on Friday morning. But still, you wonder if there’s all that much to be thankful for. Did you know that unthankfulness toward God is the main cause of cynicism and bitterness in our hearts?
The fastest cure for a chronically critical spirit is to repent of unthankfulness, and to open our mouths and give thanks to God. It’s impossible to be “bitter” and “thankful” at the same time - because one attitude drives out the other. That’s why God tells us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
My friends, if our hearts are not overflowing with thankfulness this time of year, could it be that we have lost sight of Who it is that we are thankful to, and exactly what it is that we are the most thankful for? Even though there are going to be atheists (unbelievers) celebrating Thanksgiving this week, the fact is that there is no one who is in a better position to be truly thankful than you and me.
Brothers and sisters, so many good things happen to us when we acknowledge God and when we cultivate a life of thanksgiving to God. Genuine thanks stands out to Him as an appropriate response to His grace, an essential part of worshiping Him, and an expression of faith that is very acceptable to Him. One of the most important things that we can do to put “feet” on our Christian faith is to cultivate a lifestyle of thanksgiving to God. Because we gain so much from giving thanks to God. What the Lord really wants is for His name to be made known among the nations.
How do we do that?
Through our public praise and testimony!
Through the celebration of Him being our God!
Through sacrificial living!
The art of thanksgiving is “thanks-living.”
It is gratitude in action - It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.
This Thanksgiving ought to be a celebration of the gift of life through the great and good Giver of Life! We must give thanks to God: for Who He is, for what He does, and for His majesty!
Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks-living!