A New Thought for Thanksgiving
Recently people around our country gathered around tables laden with delicious food, and shared in a very special meal that we call Thanksgiving. It is also a day in which most of those same people offered a special prayer before the meal, thanking God for not just the meal alone, but for their blessings that He has provided during the course of the year. Typically, despite various religious beliefs and affiliations, everyone says “Amen” and begin thankfully devouring the food, not giving a second thought to that prayer. Today, I want to share with you some “second thoughts” we should be considering when we offer thanks to God.
Thanksgiving infers Recognition
It is not common that one is thankful for anything in this world without recognizing the source of a gift or blessing. Something as simple as thanking an individual for holding the door open for you infers that you recognized that person for what they had done. This holds true within the Bible as well, as individuals who were giving thanks did not do so generally, but highlighted the One who bestowed those blessings! When the Ark was returned to Jerusalem in 1 Samuel 16, David appointed Asaph and his brothers to sing thanksgiving to the Lord! “Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” (v.8) In fact, nearly every reference to the word “thanks” in scripture is attributed to God, and rightly so. HE alone is the source of all good things. (James 1.17) But what so many people do not realize is that when one recognizes God for what He has done for you, you must conclude that there is something you must do as well.
Recognition demands Obligation
If one would seek to be right before God, there is no way to recognize Him without being obligated to Him. To know God, and yet not feel obligated to obey Him is described in Romans 1.21: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Notice that these individuals are not OK. Their thinking is described as futile, or hopeless. Their hearts are darkened. People today certainly are aware of God, and especially at times of thanksgiving are willing to offer up at least a token version of thankfulness, and yet they stop short of honoring Him! We cannot afford to be so naive!
Expressing thankfulness to God implies that you recognize God as the source of your blessings, and as such you are obligated to honor and obey Him as Lord! One cannot pick and choose the parts of God they wish to recognize or not, accepting God as Provider and rejecting Him as the Creator and Lord! The God that created heaven and earth in Genesis 1 is the same God that instructed Adam and Eve not to partake of the forbidden tree in Genesis 2. The God that freed the Israelite slaves in Exodus 12 is the same God that gave the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. The God that loved us to the point of sending His Son to die on our behalf (John 3.16) is the same God that punishes those that inflicts “vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1.8) Of course we are obligated to God whether or not we recognize Him as Lord, but it is particularly foolish to believe we are pleasing to God by being thankful, when our lives are spent in defiance of His will for us!
So as you sit down to eat, whether it be a normal day or a holiday, stop to consider what it means when you offer thanks to God. Consider that God has done so much for you besides the food offered on the table, which soon will be a distant memory. Consider whether or not your life is lived in thankfulness to God for His great gift to you and I, because the purest form of thankfulness to God is obedience. “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6.17-18)