Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a day set apart by the national government so that Americans might express their thanks. The roots of this holiday grow deep into American soil, touching the very beginnings of the country. I wonder if they could have seen our parades, football games, and incredibly fattening desserts, would they have scolded us, or joined in? I bet George Washington would always cheer for the Cowboys.
I think it’s a fine thing that the United States (among other countries) sets apart a specific day for gratitude, even if this day is often more devoted to football and feasting than to actually giving thanks to God. But sometimes I think we Americans do ourselves a disservice by identifying one day a year for gratitude. The danger, as I see it, is that we might not live thankfully all year round.
Thanksgiving should remind us to live with a spirit of gratitude year-round.
Scripture calls us to a life of gratitude, not just a day. Colossians 3:17, for example, says: “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Everything we do and say should have two basic characteristics. First, it should be done “as a representative of the Lord Jesus.” The original Greek reads more literally, “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This does mean “as his representative,” but it also suggests that we are to seek his agenda and to be committed to his purposes.
Second, we are to do and say everything “giving thanks” to God the Father through Jesus. This doesn’t mean that we are to stop every action and every conversation in order to offer a literal prayer of thanks to God. Rather, we are to act and speak thankfully. We are to live each moment with an awareness of God’s grace at work in our lives and in the world. Sometimes we will express our gratitude to God or to others. But even when we’re silent, we are to receive all of life and do all that we do with an awareness that we are living by grace.
Living thankfully gives God the credit he deserves, and that’s sufficient reason to do it. But living thankfully also transforms us. It gives us a deeper appreciation of life. It steers us away from focusing too much on our struggles. It enables us to see God’s presence even in hard times. It motivates us to live each moment of each day for God and his glory. Pervasive thanksgiving enables us, therefore, to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
So, be thankful, for sure. But be thankful tomorrow as well. And the next day. And the next. . . .