Is My Thanksgiving Focused Inward or Outward?

  1. Share
3 2

As I began to think through all the things I am thankful for, a troubling pattern began to emerge. It was all the stuff that somehow made me happy or content or at least brought some sense of self-pleasure. This, I realized was somewhat selfish, if not downright selfish. And so, I began to ponder whether “thanksgiving” was inherently just a plain self-centered action.

So, that took back to the Scriptures, and it became clear from the beginning that I had gotten my “thanksgiving” backwards… or rather inwards.

A search of “thanks” got me about a hundred hits, nine of which are in the Chronicles where most are about giving thanks to God because “He is good; His love endures forever” or giving thanks to God for His “holy name”.

In Psalm 7:17, “I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness…

In Psalm 9:1, “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

In the rest of the Psalms, thanks is given to “praise the Lord”, to “extol Him”, to “glorify Him”, to “give thanks and praise His name”, to “give thanks to your holy name”, and even, “give thanks for your righteous laws”.

And then again, repeatedly, in the Psalms and elsewhere, the familiar “give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever”.

In the Gospel, the giving of “thanks”, with one exception, is confined to Jesus giving thanks for food: bread, fish, wine. In the rest of the New Testament, thanks is primarily for Christ’s work in our salvation or for what the Lord is doing in God’s people or the enjoinment to “give thanks in all things”.

This last one demands some more attention.

Paul tells the Colossians that he rejoices in what he was suffering for them and James calls us to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds. If we are to give thanks “in all things” then that includes those things that probably are not giving me a great deal of pleasure at the moment.

All of this should make us realize that our thanksgiving is primarily to be based upon who God is and for the larger story that He is working out around us… in me, my family, my neighbors, in my fellowship… in the Kingdom of God.

All of this, of course, is a far cry from my petty little list of stuff that brings me pleasure.

I’m not saying that it is “wrong” to give thanks for the stuff in our life… our cell phones, the delicious turkey, the dog or cat or my new TV.

But… when we look at the pattern in Scripture for giving thanks, it sure seems to me that my thanksgiving has increasingly turned away from Him and has become more about me. Oh, sure, I’m thanking God for all this stuff, but I’m only thanking Him because all this stuff is bringing me some sort of pleasure.

Which is actually pretty lame.

When we gather at the table tomorrow, maybe it would be good to spend some of our “giving thanks” time on expressing thanks to God just for who He is. Thank Him for His goodness, not because He gives me stuff, but just because He is “good”… that His love endures forever.

It is my practice on Saturdays, in my prayer time, to thank and praise God for His attributes, which I go through in alphabetical order. Maybe that would be an interesting exercise for your family tomorrow. See how many you can name.

May this be a true day of giving thanks as we look less inward and more Outward.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Community tags

This content has 0 tags that match your profile.

Comments

To view comments or leave a comment, login or sign up.

Related Content

6
If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then... (#0)
Over the next seven weeks, I would like to think through forty things that are true if Jesus, indeed, “rose from the dead”. This will take us through Ascension Day and Pentecost. Both are important days of remembrance following the Resurrection and we will highlight them. Paul states that without the resurrection, our faith would be in vain and we would still be lost.  “… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” 1 Cor 15:17 This is not a minor statement and it should cause us pause, for it puts this unique historical event into sharp perspective.  It is easy for me, and possibly you, to treat Easter as another Christian holiday marked by multiple, and possibly extensive, preparations. Church choirs rehearse diligently and on overtime, special services are prepared (think Good Friday and sometimes Sunrise Services), thousands of lilies are tended and provoked to bloom at the right time and are purchased to line sanctuary rails, special clothing and hats are bought or laid out, after-church family meals are planned and prepared and joyously consumed, and, as I have for years, some create treasure hunts, hide carefully painted eggs, make or purchase Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies, peeps, and who knows what else the market has come up with.  The point here is that just like Christmas and Thanksgiving and every other holiday, including birthdays, anniversaries, and the multitude of “take-your-boss-to-lunch” kind of days, they are preceded with much preparation, happy execution, and then forgotten except to toss the wrappings into the trash and press on with life as usual. When I was at the White House, the annual “Easter Egg Roll” on the south lawn was a really big deal with weeks of preparation, followed immediately by a massive clean-up and the Secret Service hustling folks out of the “compound”. For the Resurrection, however, Paul would imply that it is something so critical to our faith that it should be an ever-present reality. The astounding cry, “He lives!” should be on-going, not a one-and-done holiday. I think it would be important for us to ponder and meditate upon the deep implications that the tomb was really, truly empty and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is really real… absolutely true… a historical fact that has everyday implications. So, we will look at not only these implications, but also the apologetic propositions and the incredible truths that logically follow this unmatched historical assertion. We will not go through these in any particular order. We are not going from the least to the greatest or vice versa, in fact, you may feel as if they are somewhat haphazard. Which may be true! For I will list them as they come to mind… which increasingly seems to be quite haphazard. :) But, maybe… after seven weeks, we will have imprinted these implications and truths deep in our hearts such that they will help us with our walk into the darkness we call future. Because it is the Resurrection of Christ that stands at the forefront in the apologetic reality of who Jesus is and what God has done for us. [Next: The Seal Was Broken]
7
Pray, Remnant, Tuesdays Noon Eastern, for Revival and Repentance
It is past time for those who call upon the Lord, to call upon the Lord. If God prompts you, let’s take a few minutes to begin to pray together, on Tuesdays at noon, eastern, for repentance and revival in our land. Wouldn't it be something if the totality of God's people were humbling themselves before God together with one voice at the same time all over our land.  It is important, however, to recognize that God is the one who grants repentance: "...in the hope that God will grant them repentance and they will come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:14-16) So, we must ask Him, yea plead with Him, to grant our culture repentance and that we might "come to our senses". This may mean that He will first need to bring us to our knees through tragedy or dire circumstances, but repentance is what we desperately need. May we be like Ninevah, who, as a nation, repented before God and He relented from the judgment that was due to them. Pray for personal revival and repentance: Confession of our sin of selfishness, all about me, all about my script; pride and control; complaining and whining; faithlessness and hopelessness; sins that entangle my life; sins that build barriers between me and others; apathy; laziness and procrastination; wasting time; busyness and chasing after worthless activities; addictions; lack of joy and love and peace and patience; coolness in my hunger for God. Pray for a revival of my heart and soul and mind; for the Spirit of God to breathe upon me. Pray for national revival and repentance: Confession of our corporate sin of the slaughter of millions of babies and the casual selling of their severed bodies; for the sin of sexual immorality—in our laws, in our arts and media, movies and music; for the sin of theft and murder and lawless crime ravaging our streets and cities; for the sin of lust for drugs, for sex, for money, for power; for the sin of rebellion and tyranny in government; for our nation rejecting God. Pray for revival in our marriages, in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our businesses, in our pulpits and congregations, in our governors, in our state and federal governments. May the Lord be gracious and merciful to us and turn the heart of our nation back to Him. Pray for the unity and revival of the Remnant: Pray that God would breathe on our dry bones; that He would pull us together; that we would stand in the face of persecution; that we would be blameless before God and man; that we would encourage each other, pray for one another, love each other as Jesus prayed we would and that the world would know Him to be the Son of God because of our oneness in Christ; that we would be the light and salt we were meant to be; that God would raise us up for such a time as this. All for His Glory. Soli Deo Gloria!