Ever noticed that on Thanksgiving, people are great at being full of thanks, they’re just horrible at giving thanks? I hear radio announcers say, “We have a lot to be thankful for,” or kids say, “I’m thankful for my mommy and my daddy and my Action 3000 Super Fighter Lightning Striker Hero.” They are like containers, brim full of all kinds of thanks, but they don’t direct those thanks towards anyone in particular. People hoard thanks. They don’t give the thanks back to the giver.
From the very first Thanksgiving, the holiday was always about giving, not just storing up thanks and gratitude within ourselves. The Berkley Plantation settlers, who reputedly held the first Thanksgiving, wrote in their charter that the day of their arrival was to be “yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.” Their thanks were always directed towards God, the good giver of blessings and gifts.
One of the reasons we don’t give thanks to God anymore is because our mainstream culture doesn’t promote it. For example, Maryland schools officially ban students from thanking God at Thanksgiving. They can thank mommy, daddy, Santa, or the Tooth Fairy, but they can’t give credit to the Almighty (click here for the article). Even though it might not be school policy everywhere, this mentality permeates our culture.
Jesus longs to receive our thanks, not just on Thanksgiving, but everyday: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We can give him thanks through prayer and in song, in the quiet of our hearts, or in the ruckus of the family dinner table.
This Thanksgiving be full of thanks, but don’t forget to give thanks to God for the great things He has done.
Whom will you thank this year?