Giving Thanks or Thankful Giving
Ah. The smell of fresh food warms the house (saving you from turning the heat on). People are frantically scurrying across the seemingly small kitchen making last minute preparations. The football game is on in the living room, emotions running high. It surely is Thanksgiving – in America.
Let us begin by clarifying that this is not one of those posts that ends with the conclusion: You should be thankful for everything you have as others may not have what you have or You should be thankful every day not just one day out of the year or anything along those veins of thought.
When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of giving thanks. Usually this consists of going around the table where each person says what he/she is thankful for (common answers include but not limited to: Jesus, family, friends, food, etc.). We are reminded of the ten lepers that Jesus healed, but only one took the time to thank Him (Luke 17:11-19). Or we read about giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), not just when we are leading abundant lives. When we take the time to thank God for everything He has given us, the gift of eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, the eventual permanent power over death through Jesus, grace, mercy, and so on, we cannot help but marvel that we have been truly blessed.
We want to challenge you to look at Thanksgiving a different way today. If we asked you to explain what Thanksgiving means to someone who never heard of it, chances are you would say it means to “give thanks.” We revert the wording of the holiday to focus on the action of expressing gratitude (in a verbal manner). There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
What if we described Thanksgiving as the act of “thankful giving.” This implies more than just saying what we are thankful for. It implies that our actions are the result of having a spirit of thankfulness. Which is preferable? When someone takes time out of their schedule to help you with your homework, you can be thankful. When you have been blessed to be the recipient of such an action and as a result you take time out of your schedule to help someone else that is thankful giving. When someone gave you money or food knowing you were in need you could be thankful. Helping someone else in their time of need because you now have the means to is thankful giving. Starting to catch the difference? There is nothing wrong with being thankful. But how much more of a difference can you make with thankful giving? Look at it this way:
Thanksgiving is not just about being thankful. It is about thankful giving.
We are thankful that Jesus died on the cross for us and saved us from our sins. How can we thankfully give based on that fact? We could share the good news with others!
We are thankful that Jesus rose from the dead, proving that this life is not the end and that the God we serve has the power over death. We can thankfully give by comforting those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
We are thankful that God gave us a bountiful harvest. Unlike the rich man who built bigger barns (Luke 12:13-21), we can practice thankful giving by sharing our profits with others who have been less fortunate.
Let us sum this up with the all too common phrase: Pass it forward. “For everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” Share your blessings. If there is anything this world could use more of, it would be the spirit and the unconditional love of God revealed through His Son Jesus.
Will you thankfully give because of what God has given you today?