Christianity 201

October 10, 2022

A Day to Give Thanks

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , ,

This was Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and I wasn’t planning to acknowledge it, but as I worked on some writing for another audience, this all came spilling out…

Newcomers to Canada (and the U.S.) are often amazed that our fall [harvest] holiday is framed in terms of giving thanks. Most countries don’t have that emphasis.

According to Wikipedia, “Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia.” It’s a short list, isn’t it?

But where lies the object of our thanks?

It reminds me of those wall-decor pieces they sell in home accessory stores that simply say “Believe.” Uh, believe in who, or what exactly? The sign leaves it open-ended. For Christians reading this, do I really need to spell it out? We know where the object of our belief (i.e. our trust) is placed. But in the broader marketplace, ‘Believe’ is ambiguous.

Imagine having a feeling of gratitude well up inside you, but having nowhere to place it. G.K. Chesterton famously said, ““The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.”

Andy Stanley’s Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta does a special two-week emphasis every year called “Be Rich.” People misunderstand this and assume it’s some type of prosperity doctrine. In a way it’s the opposite. The phrase is taken from I Timothy 6: 17-18:

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Thanksgiving is not only a time to express thanks, but to share the abundance that we possess; to give out of the overflow. One local church yesterday had people bring donations for Fare Share (food bank) and I can’t think of a better activity on a better day.

In 2 Corinthians 9; 10-11, Paul seems to be talking about two things at once, a harvest of bread and a harvest of righteousness. Read for yourselves:

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

It’s a great day to give thanks to God. Now then, how can we express thanksgiving in a tangible way to a world where food poverty and homeless top our local and national headlines?

…As it turns out, there was a pathway to these thoughts, and that pathway involved a verse that appeared on my NIV Bible app this week, the very next verse to the verses in 2 Corinthians 9 quoted above, verse 12. If ever a verse described some of my wife’s ministry endeavors, it’s this one:

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

Out of the overflow of my wife’s life, I see compassion, a servant’s heart, a pastoral heart, and the verse states that service which supplies needs is an expression of thanks to God.

It’s imperative that we connect the dots for people. We don’t have to literally say, “I’m giving you this cup of water in Jesus’ name;” or “In Jesus’ name receive this sandwich…” but we can say something more immediate, more personal, like, “I’m doing this in love because of the love that Christ poured on me;” or “I’m giving this to you because Jesus gave so much to me.”

It’s an expression of thanks to God.

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