Family, food, and football!
These are the things many of us think about when we look forward to Thanksgiving. And rightfully so! Today is the day we gather with our loved ones, and load up on turkey, mashed ‘taters’, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce (yes, I actually eat the stuff). It’s the day we spend some time together talking, catching up and napping with sounds of the game as comforting white noise in the background. It’s about slowing down and connecting with those we love (and in some cases those we tolerate). In fact, this is such an important activity for us many schools take the whole week off for Thanksgiving.
But underneath it all, what makes this holiday so important to us, even if we don’t think about it, is just as it says; It’s thanks-giving.
The entire point of this celebration, that became a national holiday, is the simple truth that we have so much to be thankful for. For our lives, our families, our children, our grandchildren (I am especially grateful for them), our jobs, our homes and even our country. Each one of us has more than our share to be grateful for, even those among us who have had it rough. And it is right and good we take time to remember that we have a lot to be thankful for.
But most importantly Thanksgiving isn’t just what we are thankful for, but rather who we are thankful to. This holiday originated as a celebration of gratitude toward God. Because it is by His grace that we have all that we are to be grateful for. And this is the truth that we see in the Bible.
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, (Hebrews 12:28)
James the brother of Jesus gives us a clear understanding of why we ought to be thankful:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
Jesus once said to a man who had great reason to be thankful:
“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)
The Bible makes it clear we have a lot to be thankful for and that we should continually be thankful to God. In fact, our lives should be marked by a continual state of gratitude toward God. Thanksgiving shouldn’t simply be a holiday but rather, a lifestyle. And the reason is simple; God continually pours out his grace on everyone, even those who don’t deserve it. Jesus said:
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)
God is gracious to all. The breath in our lungs, the food that we eat, the family we love, the friends that support us, are all gracious gifts from the hand of God. And he gives them to everyone! And for these things we should be continually thankful. But there is even a greater reason to be thankful.
- God the father sent God the Son into this world to live a life you couldn’t live.
- Died on the cross to pay a penalty you couldn’t pay.
- Endured the awful wrath of God the father you couldn’t endure.
- And gives you a righteousness you don’t deserve.
- So that you can come before God as one of his children instead of his enemy.
And he offers the free gift of eternal life with Him forever, for all those who would repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). Those who trust in Jesus have been saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. And for that we should always be thankful.