Have you ever wondered why many of us will be gathering with family and friends this week to celebrate thanksgiving? Of course we may say ‘We’re gathering together because it’s Thanksgiving.’ Or maybe you’d say ‘We’re gathering together because it’s what we always do.’ Let’s think a little deeper about this. When we gather for Thanksgiving, why are we gathering? Do we give thanks? Do we express our gratitude? More so, what are we thankful for? Or, who are we thankful to? To family? To friends? To God? Does this thankfulness only show up in our lives in November? Does this thankfulness lead to living differently throughout the rest of the year?
Colossians 3:15-17 has a few things to teach us about thanksgiving.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Thankfulness is mentioned three times in this passage. In v15 we’re to be thankful along with others who have been called into the peace filled body of Christ. In v16 we’re to pursue the Word of Christ together in that body through teaching, admonishing, and singing…with thankfulness abounding in our hearts to God for who He is and what He’s done. In v17 we’re to do all we do in the name of Christ while we give thanks to the Father through Him.
Thankfulness together. Thankfulness in worship. Thankfulness in all we do.
This coming Thursday and Friday I think the majority of Americans will gather together to eat and watch football without giving a second thought towards a true giving of thanks. Let’s change this. Rather than gathering with family and friends to celebrate thanksgiving in general, how about we think about who we give thanks to as well as what we’re thankful for? How about we give particular and specific thanks? What do I mean?
God is Holy, Holy, Holy, thank Him for this.
God created all things for His glory, thank Him for this.
God, when He didn’t have to and at the right time, sent His Son into the world to redeem a people for His own possession, thank Him for this.
God has saved us into a new family, the Church, thank Him for this.
God gives His Church rich communion with Himself as we gather together to worship and live life together, thank Him for this.
God gives His Church rich communion with one another as we gather together to worship and live life together, thank Him for this.
God, in His common grace, gives us families, tasty foods, exciting sports, and even naps to enjoy, thank Him for this.
God is now continuing the work He’s begun in us, thank Him for this.
God will one day finish this great work in us, thank Him for this.
Notice the common refrain in this list? God…God…God…God…God…God. God is the One we’re to be thankful to and thankful for. And we’re to be thankful not only this week but throughout the whole year as we do life in His world. Gratefulness is not an optional side dish in the Christian life, it is to be the ordinary and consistent bent of the heart. Romans 1:21 makes the case that ingratitude or ungratefulness is the gateway to the most heinous of sins. Let us be warned: if we will not be thankful, horrible things are to come.
Don Moen sang it well, “And now let the weak say, ‘I am strong’ Let the poor say, “I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us.” Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One, Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.”
May you give thanks this week, and every week for the rest of your life.