What does God want?
Have you ever wondered what the will of God is for your life? I know I have. For all we don’t know, there is one thing we can know that God wants from us and that is, thankfulness. Praise God, He has given us this truth in black and white in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “…in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” And again, in Ephesians 5:20, “…always giving thanks for all things in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ to God…” So, in God’s Kingdom, is thanksgiving a day, a lifestyle, or a moment?
Thanksgiving, the day
Thanksgiving in America: a day to eat too much, watch football, get ready for shopping on black Friday, spend (sometimes stressful) time with family, and just take a break from the mundane, everyday life. That’s what the holiday has become, but is that what it’s really all about? I think it’s safe to say that, technology notwithstanding, that was not how the first Thanksgiving went down. The simple truth is that the pilgrims were thankful to God for providing for them. Maybe it was because they had lost so much that they felt rich with gratitude for the little they had. Humility and gratitude go hand in hand. Actually, I think it’s nearly impossible to have one without the other.
On that first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims were celebrating what they had rather than mourning what they had lost. Is it possible that we’ve gone so far away from God as a Nation that having gained so much we feel poor in gratitude for what luxuries we still lack? To me, this is understandable. After all, not everyone knows God, or cares about what He wants.
Thanksgiving, the lifestyle
We complain, don’t we? I do. I have. What if we turned every complaint into a prayer or a declaration of gratitude? How would we, as Christians, appear to the world then? Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without complaining or fighting, so that you may prove yourselves to be children of God, above reproach, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation….” Wow, just by stopping the complaints and fights, we could actually show the world that we belong to God! Add to that our gratefulness to God in all things, and we have a very pleasant picture for the world to see us as witnesses for Jesus. The thing is, we aren’t just told to be thankful for some things, or for most things, but for every thing. I guess that means, we live there (in thanksgiving), and we don’t just visit for a day. Thanksgiving is a lifestyle, and as a lifestyle, it’s going to take some practice.
Thanksgiving, the moment
There is a story in Luke 17:11-19 where ten lepers came to Jesus for healing. Leprosy was incurable and highly contagious in those days. Believing this flesh-eating disease was spread through skin contact, and in order to stop it from spreading, the healthy people banished the infected people to live outside of the city in leper colonies. These lepers were known as unclean people, to be feared and avoided at all costs. But then came Jesus, the Champion of outcasts and sinners. One day, ten lepers called to Jesus from a distance, begging Him to cleanse them. He did cleanse all ten of them, but only one came back giving glory to God. A lifetime of suffering and pain was erased in a moment, and one of the men healed of leprosy fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. Even Jesus found it a bit curious, that though there were ten men cleansed, only one came back to thank Him.
I wonder if Jesus is curious about us sometimes. How many answered prayers are we walking in at this very moment? How many of those answered prayers were not met with worship and thanksgiving to God? How many answers did we just chalk up to coincidence, or to our own abilities, or maybe worse, we didn’t even notice that a prayer had been answered in the first place? I shudder to think. I want to live in thankfulness to God, giving Him glory and thanks in the good times, for the bad things, in the ugly times, and for the beautiful things.
Thanksgiving in God’s Kingdom: it’s a day, it’s a lifestyle, and it’s every moment… it’s what real living is all about.
Happy Thanks-Living, Everyone!
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