Thanksgiving

W. Terry Varner
November 24, 2013

Perhaps, there is no custom among Americans showing this nation’s character as that of Thanksgiving Day. Our practice has motivated other nations in the world to adopt similar practices. But, America is the first nation to nationally recognize its dependence on God with a special day set forth yearly to thank Him for all His many blessings. Thanksgiving as an expression to God acknowledges Him as the One who made the seed, provided the soil nutrients, and weather conditions favorable for growth, thus giving us increase.

David writes in Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise: Give thanks to Him; bless His name.” It seems difficult for so many to be thankful.

Israel’s was to be Thankful. Many of the feasts of Israel were designed to express gratitude for the blessings God bestowed upon them. They used branches of myrtle tees and twig-twined booths, called Succoths, as symbols of their gratitude. Thanksgiving in the feasts of Israel expressed more than just thankfulness for their bountiful blessings, but especially for their deliverance and protection. Leviticus 23:33-43 and Numbers 29:12-40 give details and regulations for one of their feasts. “You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites bom shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 23:42-43). The time was the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Lev. 23:34). They were to remember to be thankful for their deliverance and protection by God.

Christians are to be Thankful. Again, David asks, “What shall I render to Jehovah for all His benefits toward me?” (Ps. 116:12). This is not a commonly asked question. Perhaps, the reason we do not ask how we can oe thankful to God is that we wrongfully consider what we have acquired, accomplished, and enjoy as the result of our own achievement. When someone does us a favor we often respond, “What can I do for you in return?” Yet—we live on God’s footstool, breathe His air, drink His water, enjoy His laws of nature, et al., and never think of expressing to Him our gratitude for all we enjoy.

A Grateful Person is Humble not Proud. The grateful person feels a sense of unworthiness. Ihave so much more than I deserve,” but an ungrateful heart responds, “I deserve so much more than I have.”

Ruth, the Moabitess, had a grateful heart. Widowed after less than a decade of marriage, an impoverished stranger in a foreign land, and living with her embittered mother-in-law, Ruth sought for a way to support Naomi and herself. Discovered by Boaz and given the right to lean grain from his fields, she falls all over herself expressing gratitude for his kindness. “Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take knowledge of me, see I am a foreigner?’” (Ruth 2:10). Ruth’s humility is seen in her response of gratitude to the least little kindness shown her by Boaz.

A Grateful Person is Self-conscious not Self-centered. Grateful people think and talk about others; whereas, ungrateful people tend to focus on “my needs” and “my feelings . . . hurts . . . desires . . . how I have been mistreated, neglected . . . failed by others.” The ungrateful person is preoccupied with self “grasping and demanding;” whereas, the grateful person is caring and seeks to please and bless others.

A Grateful Person Is Contented not Discontented. When we yield ourselves to God we find contentment. “In everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want” (Philip. 4:12). This is why Paul wrote: “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). John Heruy Jowett said it this way: “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” As a vaccine it prevents a disgruntled attitude. As an antitoxin it prevents effects of a bad attitude. As an antiseptic is destroys the germs of grumbling and murmuring.