As American’s we like holidays. Perhaps it is because the kids get out of school and the adults get a day or two off work that causes us to be so fond of holidays. It is strange in many ways that we would celebrate the lives of people who worked their heart out for a particular cause, by taking a day off from work or school. I often wonder if it wouldn’t honor a man like Martin Luther King more to go to school or work on that day instead of taking off and having a parade. He gave his life to making things better and giving all people an opportunity for development so that people from any background might achieve more than the generation before them could have imagined.
I love Thanksgiving Day. In some ways it is my favorite of the different holidays. I have no doubt that the setting aside of this day to remember our need to give thanks to God for all the ways He has blessed us as a nation and people, was a noble effort. I’m sure the ones who first discussed making it a holiday thought it was a way to keep people thinking that their blessings come from God and that we needed to show gratitude all the time. It is great to see all the people turn Thanksgiving into a months effort by listing something they are thankful for each day of the month of November. If doing this leads to one becoming more thankful all the time then it really has accomplished something great. Any time we spend giving thanks is an improvement over not ever thinking about what all we ought to be grateful for.
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians in chapter three, verses 15-17 he places special emphasis on giving thanks. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And BE THANKFUL. Let he message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God WITH GRATITUDE IN YOUR HEARTS. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM.” It is a pretty short reading of instruction. But in the middle of these admonitions, three times he tells them of their need for gratitude. Look at the connections made with thanksgiving on these three instances. First as he discussed the peace that should prevail in our own hearts and how it leads to the members of the body of Christ being at peace, he said to “Be thankful.” Thanksgiving is tied to people being at peace and working together effectively. Then as he describes the singing of psalms, hymns and songs in the Spirit in order to admonish and encourage each other and to offer praise and worship to God, he said we ought to sing with gratitude in our hearts. A spirit of thanksgiving will improve the singing of people more than just about anything else in the world. Finally, as he discussed the need to do all things in word or deed in the name of the Lord or by his authority he again comes back to “Giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
In I Thessalonians 5:16-18 he declared, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Just focusing on these two Scriptures it is important to notice that whatever direction one might be going, whatever a Christian is doing or whatever circumstances one may be in it is the proper time and place to give thanks. Later in I Timothy 4:1-5 Paul was describing a falling away from God that was happening. The Spirit of God had clearly spoken to him to say that some would abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” Notices these false teachers led by demons and deceiving spirits were forbidding people to do things that God created for us to do. They were forbidding marriage and certain foods. But God made both to be received by His children with thanksgiving. The foods are actually set apart for God by means of the prayers of thanksgiving.
What this all means it seems to me is that Giving Thanks is a much more powerful and much more universally needed than we would ever think. Whatever may be going on in our life it is time to give thanks. One may be thinking that there are things in my life for which I just can’t be thankful. Well even if you can’t thank God for every thing that happens, you should thank God in everything that happens. No matter what takes place there are blessings to be received and lessons to be learned.