Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. A day when the whole country feasts, perhaps to their own ruin, but perhaps not. To give thanks is a vital aspect of walking by the Spirit and living by faith. We are commanded to be thankful and to not grumble.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thes 5:16-18)
There was a man who loved God, and as he grew the grace and knowledge of Jesus, he realised his sin was deeply rooted and kept creeping up like weeds in a garden. He realised his past lack of respect for authority kept him from desiring to take responsibility in the present assuming that no one respects authority. He had guilt spewing out of his pores. The accuser was hounding him like a pesky guard dog barking in the middle of the night keeping sleep away. He was saved. He was maturing. He was also complaining and full of bitterness. There was a cloud of despair over his head and the devil liked it.
Wormwood did everything he could to keep that cloud over this man’s head. He pointed out all the flaws in his life to keep his attention on the imperfections. He pointed out the toilet paper rolls that weren’t on correctly. He pointed out the sock lazily lounging in the corner of the hallway. He pointed out the skillet that was on the stovetop with some leftovers still in it. He pointed out the dust that was on the top of the fridge. He pointed out the crumbs on the kitchen floor from last night. And especially other people’s sins were pointed out. This made the man feel righteous. Often his righteousness was gained by someone else’s failure.
The enemy did everything he could to make sure the man didn’t notice that his beautiful, blessed, fruitful pregnant wife, who loved and respected him so much, just vacuumed the whole house while his kids helped scrub the toilets. He did all things possible to make sure that he didn’t notice the love and effort put into making dinner. The enemy did all things possible to make sure he didn’t notice his son’s artistic abilities and desire to please his father. He did all things possible to make sure this man didn’t give thanks. The devil tempted him to disobey God’s will.
The man knew something wasn’t right. The gears were grinding, the smell of smoke was in the air, fire could start at any minute. The oil hadn’t been renewed for too long and transformation was stalled. The Word was needed.
Then came, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
To give thanks is God’s will. The enemy does not want us to give thanks because that means we are ceasing to covet. It means we are ceasing to whine, moan, and murmur. It means we are walking in the light, seeing that God made all things good.
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Giving thanks also has a direction. When we “give”, there is one who “receives”. When we give thanks we are giving thanks to someone. We cannot give thanks for thanksgiving sake. Or give thanks to a force.
We all know that being thankful is good, however we don’t know who to thank. You might say that the direction of our thanksgiving is irrelevant and that the only relevant part is my feeling good. However, unless there is a recipient of our thanks, our giving of thanks becomes aimless or aimed in the wrong direction. Our giving of thanks must be directed toward God, maker of heaven and earth. And unless we first acknowledge that all of life is a gift given to us from our Lord, the “thankful” feelings that inevitably arise are the worship of idols.
Scripture commands us to “give thanks to the Lord”. We can give thanks with melody and harmony, with dance and with loud shouts, with stringed instruments and loud clashing cymbals, with our rest and with our work, with our feasting and with our fasting. There are many ways to give thanks, but it all must be directed to the Giver who continually pours out his gifts on us and who poured out his greatest gift of love on us by giving us His only begotten Son.