I hope your thanksgiving has been wonderful. It is such a great time to remember what God has done for us. Having a grateful heart is so important in our relationship with God.
We have a bulletin board at church our children’s minister put up. It is an area you can write on that asks, “What are you thankful for.” One answer never came up – Me. No one wrote – “I am thankful for me!” Thankfulness is not about self. As tempting as it is to have “comparison thankfulness” that is not what it is all about. Comparison thankfulness is thankfulness based on comparing yourself with others. If you come out ahead – you have a lot to be thankful for. If you come out behind then your blessings must be lacking – that is not what God intended! We practice comparative thankfulness when we compare ourselves with othere countries and think we are more blessed than others. That is not what God intended. God intended for his blessings to get us looking at Him and not at others.
Luke 18:9ff is a story of comparative thankfulness. The story of the Pharisee and the tax-collector. The Pharisee compares himself to others and determines he is thankful for himself. The tax-collector focuses on only himself and God and leans on God’s mercy. Guess who God heard?
Thankfulness is not about who we are, how good we are, or what we deserve. Jesus was the ultimate example of a life lived pointed toward others. He calls us to do the same.
We certainly have a lot to be thankful for. James 1:17ff says “every good and perfect gift comes from above.” Psalm 24:1-2 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” It is all His. It is all from Him and going back to Him. All blessing comes from God. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and see if you don’t feel blessed. God’s blessings are more than skin-deep. They are spiritual and eternal. In the Old Testament praising God is often associated with who He is and the mighty acts he has performed in their past to make them into a people (ie – the exodus).
Thankfulness is expressed. It connects. It is not done in isolation. How can we “give thanks” if it is just you?
I want to mention a couple of ways we express our thankfulness to God.
- Singing – we devote our words and hearts to God. Hopefully we think about and mean the words that we sing. Praise is the result of a heart that is devoted to him.
- Prayers – Scripture is full of prayers of thanksgiving. Prayer is not a list of requests but a conversation that comes from a heart devoted to him. Prayers that merely reflect our “want list” normally focus on self and not on Him. Let’s give him thanks for all that he has done.
- Helping others – 1 John repeatedly talks about the connection between our view of others/how we treat others and our view of God. Jesus said that helping others is helping him.
- Whole life process – Rom 12:1-2 talks about being a “living sacrifice” – there is no higher price and no greater length of service than being a “living sacrifice” because it takes everything we have and it lasts as long as we live (forever).
We have a lot to be thankful for – let’s tell Him about it!
Great post. My 5-yr-old son came home from school on Tuesday with a picture for Thanksgiving. At the top it said, “I’m thankful for . . . ” & then it had drawings & words written out below. He actually DID have “Me” on the list! But when I asked him about it, he clarified: “I’m thankful for me being alive.” It was cute, once I realized what he meant. 🙂 We hear people say a lot about how blessed we are, compared to other countries, other cultures, etc. I guess it’s hard NOT to be comparatively thankful. That’s something I’m going to work on. Thanks for the inspiration!
happy thanksgiving Matt & Missy! a little late i know. i appreciate your thoughts on thankfulness and reminding us how much we’ve been given. another verse that challenges me to think about is 2 Peter 2:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Even Acapella recognized this as an important verse.