Summary: Is giving thanks simply something we do once a year? Not according to Jesus and the bible. Giving thanks is a lifestyle to be lived out in several ways.
Thanksgiving to Thanksliving
November 23, 2008
Well, here we are for another Thanksgiving and our Thanksgiving service with our Thanksgiving dinner afterwards. I truly hope that you will stay and be a part of this special time of fellowship. I saw this cartoon that was cute about a Thanksgiving giving service. It says, “No, I clearly said, Thanks-giving service.”
And speaking of giving thanks, here is a classic story.
An atheist was walking through the woods, admiring all the "accidents" that evolution had created. "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!" he said to himself.
As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. Turning to look, he saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran away as fast as he could up the path.
He looked over his shoulder and saw the grizzly was closing. Somehow he ran even faster, so scared that tears came to his eyes. He looked again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pounding, and he tried to run faster. He tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up, but the bear was right over him, reaching for him with its left paw and raising its right paw to strike him.
At that instant the atheist cried, "Oh my God!"
Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving.
As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, "You deny my existence for all these years, teach others that I don’t exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"
The atheist looked directly into the light and said, "I would feel like a hypocrite to become a Christian after all these years, but perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?"
"Very well," said the voice.
The light went out. The river ran. The sounds of the forest resumed. Then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed its head, and spoke: "Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful."
What is thanksgiving about? Black Friday deals? Turkey? Football? Family? I’ve heard someone say that every addict has his holiday. The fourth of July is for the pyro. Labor Day for the sluggard. New Year’s is for the alcoholic. Christmas is for the shopaholic. And Thanksgiving is for the overeaters.
When I looked in the bible about giving thanks, being thankful, and thank offerings and giving thanks to the Lord, I noticed an interesting pattern. I saw that being grateful and thanking God for his blessings and giving thanks was not just a perfunctory duty or polite obligation or even just a good thing. It seems to be intended by God to be a way of living. It is a lifestyle. And specific as we follow Jesus and think about the great sacrifice that he made for us, it is moving from just giving thanks to living it out. It is moving from Thanksgiving to Thanksliving.
Thanksgiving to Thanksliving
We heard from 2 Cor. 9 earlier. We saw the importance of being thankful not just as a prayer and not just as being polite but as a way of life. And as we think about what this holiday should mean to us, I hope we will consider several ideas.
• Attitude of Gratitude
God loves a cheerful giver. God will make you rich if you are generous in every occasion. Somehow I think that God sees this richness in more than just money and material possessions. Don’t you? And generosity results in a thankful attitude and even a cheerful attitude.
You’ve probably heard this saying. Some of us are helped by these sayings. It helps us remember the principle—in this case the principle of being grateful for all that we have and being grateful for those things that we don’t have. What kind of things could we be grateful for, which we don’t have and probably don’t want?
This all points to our attitude. How think about things? What we dwell on? How we approach life…
• Serving others as Gratitude
Serving others and supplying needs is a way of expressing our gratitude as least in God’s scheme of things. In this sense, simply praying a prayer for forgiveness of our sins is really on a very beginning that scratches the surface of what following Jesus means.
If we are truly full of thanks for what God has done for us and we are truly grateful for the things that God has done which we could not have done for ourselves, then the result is a love for others and a desire to serve others. If our attitude is truly changed, then giving to others and meeting their needs becomes a new way of life.