Confession... I don't usually like holidays. They interrupt my routine. I feel obligated to preach and teach a "special" holiday message - which is harder than you think on some levels. Thanksgiving has always been one of those dreaded holidays, yes I know that is terrible. Until this year. This year several things related to Thanksgiving have hit me all at once.
First - Thanksgiving is not just a holiday, it is a life call for those who follow Jesus. The Bible overwhelmingly calls us to be thankful and to give thanks - not on a single day set aside as a holiday, but every day, in every circumstance. Here is one of many examples of this life call: Colossians 3:16-17 - 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Second - I live most of my life in the opposite of Thanksgiving. Thankful means that we are grateful, appreciative, and filled with gratitude… and the truth is that most of us live a good part of our lives in the opposite of thankfulness—we are ungrateful, and unappreciative. A good indicator of thankfulness might be contentment. How content are you in each area of your life?
If the Christian life should be one of Thanksgiving at all times and in all circumstances and I live most of my life somewhere other than Thanksgiving, what am I missing? Why am I NOT thankful? Here is what I discovered about myself and people in general.
* Unappreciative People Look At What They Don't Have. I am the most unappreciative and unthankful when I focus on the things that I don't have, or when I focus on the things that others have that I don't - bigger house, better neighborhood, higher income, more well behaved children... Sometimes, if I am not careful this can become anger, and bitterness, not just toward the people who have what I want, but toward the God who does not bless me like I think He should. Now THAT'S definitely the opposite of Thanksgiving! This is what drove David to murder for a beautiful woman and what Eve and then Adam to take of the forbidden fruit. Too often I am focused on what I DON'T have.
* Thankful People Look at What They Do Have. Most of have far more than the necessities. Even the poor in our country live far better than most parts of our world. When it comes to what we have, we have much - access to medical care, electricity, clean water, sanitation, clothes, food, assistance for those who cannot provide for themselves. And for most of us, we enjoy nice homes, nice vehicles, plenty to eat, multiple tvs, smart phones, dining out and more. We aren't really lacking. But more, when we consider all that we have in Christ, we see that we have been truly blessed beyond measure (how quickly we lose sight of this). In Christ our sins are forgiven, wiped clean, as good ad forgotten in the eyes of God. In Christ there is no shame, no condemnation. In Him we have been brought into an incredible new family - we have a new dad - God! We have new brothers and sisters - Jesus, and all of those who love and follow Him. we are loved and accepted. In Him our future is certain - we will one day be restored to all that he intended (along with all of His creation) before sin entered into the world. There will be no more hardship, no more fighting, no more hurting or sickness or death. And we will enjoy Him forevermore. I could go on and on with all of the blessings and victories that our ours to enjoy in Christ - ours to enjoy because of His life, death and resurrection - we have, indeed been blessed and cared for and given to beyond measure. This is what I have been missing. This is why I have not been a very thankful person - I have been looking at the wrong things. When I consider all that He has done and all that he is going to do, How he has already provided for me and will continue to provide, How my Father has sent His Son, And how that Son came in love to willingly suffer and die for me... When I really understand that He has sent His Spirit to fulfill his promise to ALWAYS be with me To help me, To care for me, To lead me and teach me... When I consider his glory and His beauty and His splendor, And then consider that this great God and Savior has suffered so much for me, for us, And even more - When I consider that that He LOVES me, Then my heart is filled love for him… how can I see all of these things and NOT love Him How can I count all of these blessings and NOT be Thankful?
That Good News is re-shaping my heart and life. Today I am truly thankful. And I'm hoping, not for a great Thanksgiving day, but for a life of Thanksgiving!