“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1
Halloween is officially behind us which means one thing… It’s Christmas time! I am not joking when I say that literally on Halloween day, major retail stores had already stashed away their ghosts and goblins in favor of fake spruce trees, Santa Claus displays, and green and red decor everywhere. That’s right! The halls had been decked on October 31st. Full disclosure here but when I saw the Christmas displays, I was excited as Elf was when he heard the Santa announcement.
But what about Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving gets a bad wrap for sure when it comes to the three holidays. Americans make a big deal out of it, but only for two or three days. Let’s be honest with each other, nobody ever gets too sad about a day set aside for overeating and hanging out with family and friends.
The thing about Thanksgiving is that it just doesn’t scratch as big of a consumeristic itch as Christmas or Halloween (the number one and two highest grossing American holidays respectively). But, because it is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, it tends to get overlooked. Undoubtedly we still try to make Thanksgiving as self-focused as possible, which is why it is marked more by gluttony than anything else. The very title of the holiday “Thanksgiving” is the antithesis of self but I still find ways to make it about me (i.e. complaining about spending time with family members we don’t like and you know, overeating).
The word thanksgiving by nature is others focused.
The opposite of thanksgiving is entitlement. Yet we tend to make all things about ourselves. What about our children? They are no different. They don’t come out of the womb thankful. They come out selfish and entitled. Yes, they are beautiful and sweet and wonderful...but they are self-centered. Entitlement comes easy for our kids. When was the last time you had to instruct them to be more self-focused? On the flip side, how many times do you have to instruct your children to be thankful? If you are like me then you are reminding them Every. Single. Day.
We need to also look at our own lives right now. How thankful are we? Again if you are like me, you need reminders Every. Single. Day. When my eyes are fixated on a Savior who died a death I deserved to die and who gave me abundant life I didn’t deserve to be given, I AM THANKFUL.
When I think of a merciful and gracious God, whose steadfast love endures for all time, it leads me to overwhelming thankfulness. And the overflow of this is incredible! I begin to see all the GOOD gifts my GREAT God has given me through a gospel lens, and my default attitude and disposition becomes gratitude.
The more I recognize the beauty of what Jesus did for me on the cross, how he saved an undeserving sinner, I become thankful. Thankfulness is the product of a heart that is overjoyed, satisfied, at rest, and filled to the full. Thankfulness is the product of a heart which knows it has been given everything undeservedly, so nothing good that does come is expected, demanded, overlooked as automatic, or deserved. This is how I want to be. This is how I want my children to be.
This is the culture that I am striving to cultivate in my home. And not just this month, but in the months to come, as the power of the gospel (the good news that Jesus saves sinners) drives, shapes, and informs a spirit of thankfulness in the lives of me, my spouse, and my children. I want my family to be a family that says thanks not out of obligation, but out of sincerity.
What if thanksgiving was more than just a holiday for us? What if it was a culture in our homes, a way of life for our families?
Allow me to throw out a challenge: Every day let’s all take 5 minutes out of our busy schedules to remind our families how good Jesus has been by saving we sinners, and by giving us everything else we have (“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17). Additionally, let’s focus on telling each other thanks in our homes, when thanksgiving is warranted.
By the grace of Jesus, let’s fight entitlement, consumerism, and self-centeredness in our homes by seeking God’s glory and cultivating cultures of gratitude and thanksgiving. I assure you our homes will be more full of joy than ever before. Why? Because ultimately, thanksgiving leads to great joy (1 Thess 3.9). Let’s put it to the test!