My wife is currently making something called a pumpkin roll in the kitchen. I am already hungry and I’m writing this on Thanksgiving Eve (also known as Black Friday Eve Eve). Seriously, I can already envision my plate. My wife literally just exclaimed “and now for the apple pie!” I’ll probably be doing some sampling tonight.
There’s more to Thanksgiving than meets the eye. It’s more than a day to consume 4,500 calories (which the average American will do according to studies). It’s actually uniquely Christian.
I’m not talking about the history of our country, the first Thanksgiving, or the beliefs of the Pilgrims. I’m talking about the concept of spending a day being thankful. That’s something only Jesus could get sinful man to do.
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… Ephesians 5:20
1. True thankfulness is constant.
It’s “always and for everything.” But no one can be thankful for EVERYTHING unless they understand what Jesus is up to - working all things together for our good. Some people say everything happens for a reason. But Jesus tells us that all of our ups and downs help us mimic his perfect life (which is the definition of good).
A guy at our church the other day was talking about how he once spent five years in jail. He remembers the insanity. Now, someone he’s close to is facing something very similar. Though he’s sad in many senses, in one sense he’s thankful that he can coach that person on recovering from their own brokenness. Fascinating how years and years later, he can look back at one of his lowest points and be thankful that he gets a chance to help someone out. That's the kind of redemption that Jesus brings.
2. All true thankfulness is “to God the Father.”
Jesus’ brother James tells us that all good gifts come down from the Father of Lights. We aren’t lucky. There’s no such thing as fate or fortune. It’s all the good grace of the good God. Our thankfulness then is not primarily towards each other, ourselves, or the universe but to the good God.
One problem. We’re bad. Our sin has separated us from God the Father and we can’t thank him unless we are first reconciled to him through the work of Jesus.
When we repent and start to follow Jesus our sins are washed away and we become one with God the Father. No longer are we separated from him. Instead we become close like family. Then, and only then, can we finally talk to him, giving him thanks for all the good things he has given us.
3. Thankfulness requires understanding Jesus' teaching on sin.
Only through believing Jesus teaching on sin can we see everything as a gift for which to thank God. Jesus teaches that man deserves nothing but the wrath of God. Instead of wrath, however, God pursues man in grace.
A part of this grace we call “common grace.” Common grace is any good thing sinful man experiences. We deserve wrath and instead we get turkey, iPads, Advil, cars and to argue about Donald Trump. And bacon. That’s all pretty good when you compare it to the wrath of God.
If you think you deserve good things in this life, no matter what things you get they’ll never be good enough. They’ll always disappoint you at some point. You will not give thanks.
However, if you know you deserve nothing but the wrath of God, then you’ll realize everything you have is a gift and you will always give thanks. Especially for Jesus, who took wrath for us and gave us life and life to the full.