Thanksgiving is the one day in the holiday season about which there is no ambiguity. Store clerks, news anchors, strangers, teachers, pastors, flight attendants, TV commercials, sales people, even government employees can say Happy Thanksgiving without fear of offending anyone. Most everyone can offer some reason to give thanks. For the moment, at least, thanksgiving is not offensive in our culture.
But the question must be asked, why is “Happy Thanksgiving” not offensive? People are thankful for things, relationships, food, safety, etc. But the thanks stops there. As long as people are thankful for the gifts and not the giver there is no problem. However, if giving thanks were tied to God, the greeting would be deemed politically incorrect and offensive.
The truth is that all good things for all people come from God. Here is Paul’s testimony to this reality in Acts 14:17 when he is speaking to the idol worshiping people in Lystra:
“Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
Christians have even more reason for thanksgiving. Our sins are forgiven so that we can know the Lord of the Universe. There is much to be thankful for. But the most basic reason for Thanksgiving is the goodness and mercy of God.
The simple truth is that if we were not commanded to give thanks we would not. The Scriptures are correct – there is no good thing in us. God’s commands are good and gracious; they tell you and me how to live. And in mercy, they command us to be thankful.
God is good. His love stretches into and inhabits eternity. There is no doubt regarding his faithfulness. I know these things because God has revealed them in his word. I believe them because he has commanded me to do so. With the advent of Christ we see that his courts are laid out before us each day as we walk in his world. May we honor him by giving thanks in all that we do in response to his glorious commands. Don’t hide your gratitude to God. Rejoice in it as you live before Him each day!
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.