Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cultivating a Heart of Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I must admit that as a child I kind of glossed over Thanksgiving in anticipation of Christmas. I never really liked turkey as a child which may also have contributed to my blasé feeling toward it. But as an adult, it is by far my favorite holiday. I love getting together with my family (I am one of seven children) and eating all the delicious food and watching football. Of course, the Patriots are playing as well this year which makes it even more special.

In contemplating Thanksgiving and God’s command for us to be thankful in all things (Ephesians 5:20), I am reminded of God’s most important gift to all of us who know Him as our Savior – Himself. For you see, God could have given us temporal riches to enjoy in this world but He has always had in view our number one need – redemption. John Piper once said that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” And this really is the key to the abundant life that Jesus promised would be ours in Him. So often in today’s world where gain is mistakenly for godliness as Paul said it would be (1 Timothy 6), we look toward temporal blessings as an indication of God’s favor and miss the fact that Jesus reminded us often that life does not consist in the abundance of things but IN Him alone (Luke 12:13-21).

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has written a wonderful book called Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, which I highly recommend reading as it has helped me to think about the importance of gratitude in my walk. She states that gratitude is a choice and if we fail to chose it, by default we choose ingratitude. And when we do choose a lifestyle of heartfelt, humble gratitude, we are mindful of the benefits received from our gracious Savior and those He has placed around us. By intentionally thanking God and others, bitterness and entitlement are replaced with joy and the humble realization of just how undeserving we really are.

DeMoss also challenges us to give thanks not only to God but to other people. She deftly points out that the Apostle Paul thanks people in all but four of his epistles. She also includes a 30-day devotional guide to help readers practically implement gratitude into their daily walk.

I hope this Thanksgiving you will take some time to think about gratitude beyond just the one day that it is celebrated in this country and look toward developing a heart attitude of thanksgiving throughout the year. I am currently on this journey, which I must confess has not been easy at times, especially when I am hurt by others or suffer injustices, but it is at these times that God is urging me to be most thankful. I realize this seems like a paradox, but much of Christianity is the polar opposite of human reasoning because humanism at its core leads us away from God and from the precepts of His kingdom which bring true joy and contentment. I think one of the keys to living victoriously in this area is to never forget your own salvation. It is at the cross that we find all we truly need to be thankful for, and with that perspective, anything we suffer in this life can be counted as all joy.

I hope everyone has a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.” - Edward Sandford Martin

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