Paul told the young preacher Timothy concerning the eating of food, “for every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4). That certainly includes the Thanksgiving meal that we will partake of in a few days.
But, it seems that, in this day and age, there is something fundamentally wrong with the contemporary American approach to Thanksgiving. We use the occasion of Thanksgiving to inventory our blessings and then carve the traditional turkey. When you get right down to it, there is something pretty empty and shallow with the attitude of “I appreciate what God has done for me; therefore I will indulge myself with a big meal!” Now, don’t get me wrong–I probably will do my share of overeating on Thanksgiving Day–but I can’t help but wonder if we are, in reality, participating in “Thanksfeeling” instead of genuine Thanksgiving. Real gratitude should give! What should thanksgiving really mean?
Thanksgiving means GIVING TO GOD. Paul stated to the Corinthians that remembering what Jesus gave for our sakes should make us want to give generously and cheerfully to God in return. (2 Cor. 9:6-9). The point is that thanksgiving to God should be rendered with our hearts, with our talents, with our time, and yes, even with our pocketbooks.
Thanksgiving means GIVING TO THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN TO US. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who raised us. Certainly we should honor them (Eph. 6:2). Unfortunately, in our fast-paced society, many children seem unable (or unwilling) to give their parents the time they should (this is true no matter how old you or your parents are). Are we truly thankful for our parents? Then let’s demonstrate our gratitude by giving them the most valuable gift of all–ourselves. And not only our parents, but truly give back to any and all who have selflessly touched our lives (i.e. fellow Christians, teachers, friends, etc.).
Thanksgiving means GIVING TO THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED. Real gratitude shares. Those who have been richly blessed by God must, in turn, be a blessing to others. It’s too easy for us to look at world hunger, hardship, and the needs of so many others and excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, I can’t help everyone.” True, you can’t help everyone, but you can help someone (Gal. 6:10)! It is not enough to count our blessings, we must also share them with others.
We have so much for which to be grateful. But genuine thankfulness, genuine thanksgiving not only feels, it acts! Does your thanksgiving really give?