A PEOPLE OF THANKSGIVING
Think for a moment of those individuals whom you see as the happiest, most joyous, secure, contented and fulfilled… those who seem to have it all together… those whose cup always seems full and overflowing. What do they have in common? They are thankful people! People of gratitude usually display their attitude on their faces; it is heard on their lips; it is demonstrated in the way they live. We can either live in an ongoing pity party or in continual thanksgiving. The attitude of gratitude is a choice.
I. WHAT CAUSES US TO BE A PEOPLE OF INGRATITUDE?
PERHAPS IT IS FAMILIARITY, just taking our blessings for granted. Of all people who have lived in this world, we are the most blessed ever! We have been so blessed, so long, in so many ways that we forget just how really blessed we are. Sunshine. Rain. The harvest. Money. Jobs. Health. Family. Friends. Food. Shelter. Warmth. Light. Darkness. Rest. Country. Freedom. A measure of security. Need we go on?
OUR PRIDE, a lack of humility, also keeps us from thanksgiving. Remember the Pharisee and the Publican praying in the Temple? The Pharisee's gratitude was not accepted by God as genuine because of his pride: "I thank you Lord that I am not like other men." What's wrong here? No humility. Perhaps our most sinister sin is to think we need nothing from God. Thanksgiving without humility is never acceptable by the Lord. Those who do not recognize their unworthiness before God can never correctly observe a day called Thanksgiving.
SELFISHNESS also inhibits our gratitude. How can we determine if our gratitude is being suppressed by selfishness? I know no better way than in our faultfinding, criticizing, grumbling and being judgmental of others. Do we grumble more than we give thanks? How many times are we found being critical, versus being thankful? Genuine gratitude forces us to destroy our selfishness. Genuine gratitude exhibits itself in thanksgiving.
II. HOW CAN THIS THANKSGIVING BE CELEBRATED BEST?
BY A LOYALTY TO CHRIST. As Christians, our commitment to God must begin with an understanding that we belong to Him. He brought us into this world. He sustains us daily, and He sent His Son to die to save us. Indeed, it is in Him that we live, move and have our being! We owe our existence to Him. Our bodies belong to God who made them. Our souls belong to God who saved them.
BY SERVING OTHERS. God has asked us to share our blessings by serving the Jesus in others. Are we demonstrating our Christianity to anyone? Our children? Our neighbors? The sick and shut-in? The lonely and alienated of our world? Jesus said, "as often as you do it unto the least of these my brethren, you did it unto Me."
BY OUR GIVING. In fund raising, I have observed something interesting. There are many reasons people give. What motivates us to give? What motivates us to give much? Gratitude! The Sunday contribution is a day of thanksgiving... so is today, tomorrow and the next. We will give more out of gratitude than we will for any other reason. People of integrity give more when they count their blessings and then give accordingly. Someone has rightly said, “we make a living by what we earn; we make a life by what we give to God and others.”
Thanksgiving didn't originate with our forefathers in New England, but within the heart of God. Thanksgiving is not something we celebrate once a year. It's the attitude (purity of heart) we should have each day we live. Join me today in thanks-living!
With brotherly affection - Andy