First of all, I hope everyone who reads this had a good Thanksgiving. As we are in the full swing of the holiday season, we are reminded to be thankful and generous as we are encouraged to have a holiday spirit.
So, the question always emerges, “What are you thankful for?” When we consider the question, we are often quick to answer with the obvious reasons we should be thankful. We are thankful for our health, we are thankful for our families, we are thankful for our friends, we are thankful for our jobs which provide some level of security, etc.
If I may present the challenge to us, I would call us all to move beyond the question of why we are thankful and into a lifestyle of thanks. A lifestyle of thanks is a step towards a healthy lifestyle.
Being thankful is a step towards where God calls us to be.
There are 34 times in the NIV Bible in which we are called to “Give thanks” to the Lord. Twice in the New Testament we are commanded to “be thankful” (Col. 3:15 and Heb. 12:28.) The heart of thanksgiving comes in 1 Thes. 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1. Giving thanks to God reveals your trust in him.
A thankful life begins when our trust in placed solely upon God. When we offer thanks, we allow our faith to live from the inside out. God is the only true foundation we have in this uncertain world.
2. Giving thanks to God leads us to a godly perspective in all things.
Being thankful in all circumstances is not always something we find easy. While being thankful is something we often do or think about during the holidays, being thankful should be cultivated as a lifestyle. If God truly works all things (even bad things and evil) for our good as believers, we should be thankful for the one who is in control.
3. Being thankful leads us to be thankful for others.
Perhaps one of the greatest characteristics of the Apostle Paul is that he begins virtually every letter he writes to individuals and churches by giving thanks to them. When you know who to give thanks to (God) you will know who to be thankful for (other believers).
4. Being thankful is rooted in unconditional love.
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” When we give gifts to others, we are revealing our heart towards them. Growing up I know my parents loved giving gifts to my brother, sisters and myself. Giving gifts is an expression of our love for others. When God gives gifts, he always gives the absolute best gifts! He provides us gifts because he loves us!
Earlier in the past week I received a message from a friend I have not heard from in quite a while. The message came to me when I least expected it because, to be honest, I never really thought I would hear from this person again. As I read the message, my heart was filled with love. I read the message just before I had left for work so I really had no way of responding immediately but in my heart all I wanted to do was to reach out and embrace this person and shower them with as much love as I had. That is the picture of restoration and grace.
I am thankful for the people God has placed in my life. I am thankful for my salvation, which is God’s gift, given to me by his grace. I am thankful for my family, who loves me. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for the local church. I am thankful for the pastors who have spoken into my life, encouraged and disciplined me. I am thankful to those who read my blogs and for those who follow the blog.
Express thanks to someone this week. Begin, of course, with God. Be thankful for all he has accomplished in your life. Write a letter to someone, letting them know that you are thankful for them.