Summary: Being thankful does not have much to do with what I have, but it has a lot to do with who I am.
What I Have Is Not Who I Am!
by Jim Westmoreland
I may have a nice house and a refrigerator and a freezer full of food. I may have a good job or a great retirement income. I may have abundance and plenty and still not be a thankful person. If I am a grateful, thankful person, then, whether I have a lot or only a little, I’ll still be a thankful person, because What I have is not who I am.
In Philippians 4 Paul knew the secret of being filled and going hungry, of having abundance and suffering need. He had learned and encouraged the church at Philippi to let their requests to God be made known with thanksgiving. But, that is not always easy.
Some of you might remember the old, old movie serial, Ma and Pa Kettle. You might say that they lived where the Beverly Hillbillies came from. In a classic scene from many episodes, Ma Kettle would go to bangin’ and a’ clangin’ the triangle on the porch. Suddenly, from every crevice and corner around the yard came at least a dozen screaming and yelling children. They rushed into the house fighting for a place at the table. Then Ma, in her loudest, commanding voice, would holler, "Hold it!" Everyone would freeze in silence, like you had pushed the pause button on the VCR. Pa Kettle would roll his eyes heavenward, tip his hat, and say, "Much obliged." Immediately, chaos, noise and rough-housing resumed just as abruptly as it had stopped.
And I think to myself . . . God calls us to much better than a tip of the hat.
Thanksgiving is not a feast for the flesh but rather a feast for our spiritual nature. It is true that our physical bodies receive nutrients from the food we consume, but our spiritual bodies receive something far more nourishing as a result of our thankful hearts. However, being thankful does not mean that one simply bows his head and voices a prayer of thanksgiving--it runs much deeper than that and is a little more complex.(1) Being thankful does not have much to do with what I have, but it has a lot to do with who I am.
One evening on the way home from his office, Matthew Henry, the writer of the now famous commentaries that bear his name, was robbed. Before going to bed that night, he wrote in his diary, "Let me be thankful: first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed."
Thanksgiving is not a holiday or an event as much as it is the shadow of salvation. Thanksgiving is not merely a reaction or realization of blessings. It is not just looking at all the good things we have and then bowing our heads and saying Thank you. Rather, it is the reflection of who we are in Christ. When God’s blessings are poured upon us like sunshine, the image of who we are is cast onto the ground--and although we do not control the blessings, we are fully capable of controlling our shadow.(2) As we relate to people every day, does our shadow tell them more about what we have or who we are?