Article of the Month

 

November 2007

Thanksgiving 

In this month in the United States, there is officially a day set aside for the giving of thanks.  This is not suggesting that no thanksgiving occurs on other days; but perhaps an annual reminder is not out of order to refresh our memories and to re-focus our priorities regarding the important things in our lives.

The Apostle Paul admonishes:  “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  (I Thessalonians 5:18)  There is only one other direct statement concerning what God’s will is for us.  That one (I Thessalonians 4:3) says that it is sanctification.  Knowing what God’s will is for us must surely be among the most important things in a Christian’s life.  It seems so surprising that plain statements concerning it are so limited!  But because they are so rare, the force of those that exist becomes even more powerful.

Why, then, is the giving of thanks by us so very important to God?  It might well inspire a long treatise to answer this question.  Simplicity, however, is frequently the most meaningful approach to a subject for most of us.

When we give thanks to God, we are acknowledging His place in the universe.  As Paul states it, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.”  (Acts 17:28)  James also reminds us (James 1:17), “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”  If we want to be “lights,” we must acknowledge the source of our enlightenment.  It will ultimately be imperative that every intelligent being acknowledge and be thankful for the gifts of God.  Happiness and harmony in the universe will be reliant upon it.  He will soon open His hand to satisfy the desire of every living thing.  (Psalm 145:16)

When Paul admonishes that we GIVE thanks in EVERYTHING, he is asking us for TWO character-building exercises.  First of all, FEELING thanks, while proper, is much less powerful in our development than is the GIVING of it.  Giving implies RESPONSE.  We become so emotionally atuned to God’s love and providence on our behalf, that we SEEK words and ways to express the gratitude we feel.  The giving of thanks becomes a life-line of appreciation and dependence upon our Father.  We are absorbed into His intimate family by communication.  We receive blessings, and then we express gratitude through sanctified use of the blessings and also through the verbal glorification of our Father to others, and the prayer recitations to Him.  Our characters change.  We become in the words of the hymn, “Less of self and more of Thee.”

Paul’s second character-building help comes when he points out that we give thanks in EVERYTHING.  When we can become thankful for the less-than-desirable experiences of this life, we have, indeed, taken a giant leap into becoming “New Creatures” in Christ Jesus. 

(II Corinthians 5:17)  Because Romans 8:28 (New American Standard translation) assures us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” we can count the bad experiences along with the good as things for which we are thankful.  What an attitude change this works in us!  We find ourselves quite unlike those around us.  Their fears, stresses, complaints, and discomforts are not a part of our lives.  We become lights in a dark place attesting to the strengths we receive from our God.  No witness could be stronger.  It is no wonder that the Will of God concerning us is that we give thanks in all things.

“In everything give thanks” should be a constant motto and goal for consecrated Christians.  We live uncomfortably in a world that grasps for fame, power, resources, wealth, and advantage.  What a contrast of joy, peace, happiness, gratitude, and hope we can be in their midst.  Once the Kingdom has come, our lives will serve as monuments to encourage their own progress toward God.  They will know that we have “been with Jesus.”  (Acts 4:13)  They will remember our examples in the “day of visitation.”  (I Peter 2:12)  They will then also be encouraged to find the true riches of giving thanks in all things.