I am reminded every day that our world is a very unhappy place. Think about this, just about every source of input into our lives is negative. If we turn on the news we are hit with what is going wrong in the world. It seems that even our personal communication with others majors on negativity by focusing on what is wrong with us, our lives, or those around us. The Bible reminds Jesus followers to break the cycle of cynicism by giving thanks. Thanksgiving offers us a great opportunity to flip the conversation in our lives and impact others!
A Bible search on “Thanksgiving” reminded me of the importance of making the effort to Give Thanks. It is worth noting that in the New Testament that word for giving thanks communicates the practice “of praise or expressing one’s esteem or approval of something.” Think about all the areas where you express your esteem or approval of something. It could be the way that another person has impacted you. You may express your gratitude with a kind word, or in a more tangible way with a generous tip. It is amazing the difference that gratitude impacts those around us. This seems to be especially true in a world that seems to be polarized on just about every issue, like the brand of car your drive, your favorite sports team and, yes, even one’s political views. The Bible reminds us that we can make a difference.
First, this past Sunday I mentioned a wall decoration with the words, “It is not happy people that are thankful, but thankful people that are happy. We need to remember that we cannot give to someone else what we ourselves do not possess. This means that we need to be “Thankful” people. The difference between thankful people and those that are less than thankful is what we choose to focus on. Those that are not thankful allow themselves to focus on all that is wrong. The opposite is true for the thankful person that chooses to focus on all that is good and right. It really comes down to how we interpret a situation. The Apostle Paul reminds us to be intentional with our focus living in an imperfect world, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7) Thanksgiving here is speaking of the attitude of our heart. A thankful heart is one that is able to trust the Lord to work in our situation.
Second, the best way to communicate our thankfulness is through our words and actions. The Apostle Paul addressing another issue reminds us that, “Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?”( 1 Corinthians 14:16) Our thankful words are an encouragement to others. It is through our word that we are able to share the Lord’s blessing in our lives with others.
Our Thanksgiving Holiday, especially that meal time, is a great opportunity to share the Lord’s blessings in our lives to encourage others. In another passage Paul reminds us that our actions for Him lead others to give thanks to God! “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson