Tis the season for thankfulness, pumpkin EVERYTHING (cakes, toothpicks, q-tips, you name it, it will probably have a pumpkin version), brown and red leaves, and for the weather to teeter on the edge of winter and fall, seamlessly slipping between the two. This November 26th, people all across the US will gather for the utter sanctity of the turkey, dressing, fixin’s, to celebrate what they are thankful for. While I will leave you to your own devices to learn the true origin of Thanksgiving, that is a post for another time, and you know, matters not for our purposes here, darn it.
Take a gander at Twitter or Facebook sometime in the next 24 hours, and you will notice all the hashtags, tweets, and orations denoting for what and whom the greater populace of America is thankful. You careful observers may also see the thankful challenges in which people daily, religiously list that for which they are thankful. Now, most of you might conjecture I am insulting this display, and I think none of it is inherently bad on its own, but I also know for a fact there is more to being thankful than posting it to Facebook. Check this in Philippians 2:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure.
Christian or not, I hope you stick with me, as I think this Bible passage offers us 5 things to remember when we are trying to be thankful.
1.Thankfulness takes us out of the picture.
So often, I think, it is easy to post our feelings to Facebook or subtweet how we are discontent or ecstatic with the path life has taken. When I look at the November Thankfulness Challenges of some of my friends, I see this as their opportunity to air out their vanity and brag, either willfully or not. I imagine that is precisely what Abraham Lincoln thought, in 1863, when he proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday. He originally, honestly intended it to exalt God, dedicating the third Thursday of the month of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” This is consistent with the scripture. We should do things not simply for ourselves.
2. Thankfulness is consistent with words and actions.
When I think of a thankful person, I automatically think of someone who pays lip service to satisfaction, and lives in wanting for more things. Okay, that is sarcasm. Thankfulness pays more than lip service to satisfaction with one’s life and supports those words with actions. With reading the articles at The Bearded Travis, you come to realize words matching actions is a big deal to me. While I can be the world’s worst at ensuring my words and actions match, it is always the standard. Integrity is always the standard. The way we live our lives and talk about our lives either screams “Us!” as we selfishly live for and about ourselves, or we live in thankfulness, speaking gratefulness with our lips, and supporting that thesis with the evidence that is our lives.
3. Thankfulness is not a one day event.
As I just stressed above, my life and your life must scream thankfulness through words on Facebook and to our friends and your and my actions. The key word here is lives, meaning, the entirety of a person’s choices, actions, and words for every single day of every single year, not simply one sanctioned “banks are closed” type of day. The text says “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure.” The actualization of our thankfulness, or our doing everything without grumbling and complaining, brings about our blamelessness and purity. We get good things from being daily thankful! Can it be difficult? You betcha. However, daily thankfulness is often the path of least resistance as well as the most difficult thing to do.
4. Thankfulness depends on how we treat others.
Just as thankful people focus not on themselves, it also reveals how we treat those around us, and not necessarily just those we care about. True thankfulness hinges on how we engage with our relationships with others. I think a valuable comparison could go like this. I am sure Scrooge (you know, the old miser from that weird Christmas movie you watched as a kid) is ever so glad he has made the money he owns, he even cherishes it. However, the Scrooge we know is not considered thankful, even though he would verbalize and act thankful for his money, because of how he treats others. He terribly treats those who reside around him,leaving him alone and cold. Our thankfulness for where we are in life and for the things we have only goes as far as how well we treat others.
5. Thankfulness stems from God.
Now, I realize some of you reading this might not care about what God has done for you. Well, I am here to tell you that God cares about you and sent His perfect son to pay the price for sins we have not even committed yet for the sake of claiming us from our sinful nature. HE paid a high price, sacrificing His son that you and I might have abundant, true life. He reclaimed us from Hell for the chance to know us and for us to know Him. That excites me! It makes me well up with gratitude, and I argue that only true thankfulness stems from the place we find ourselves, having been redeemed, our slates having been wiped clean, and our reputation with Him having been restored. He crossed the chasm of our own humanity to bring us to Himself so that we do not have to taste the stench of sin and death any longer. From that place my thankfulness for the life He has given me, the things I have experienced, the people I get the privilege to love, and Himself – in Him alone I have received all my blessings, and to Him we can only be grateful.
Whatever your stance on Thanksgiving, I hope you will take time to remember that Thanksgiving is not only about remembering the things we possess, but allowing that thankfulness to spill over, so we might remind others the hope we have in life, a life that is only possible through the grace of God.