Monday, November 2, 2009

The Practices of the Christian Faith: Thanksgiving

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5.18

The American tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving is not a Christian holiday. Thanksgiving has its roots in the Christian (puritan) celebrations of the earliest settlers to the American continent, but it was not until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860’s that Thanksgiving was made a national holiday. There is not Thanksgiving on the Christian calendar. And yet the Bible enjoins us over and over again to be thankful.

You see, being thankful is something that we are to practice all the time. We are not to limit our gratitude to God to a particular season of the year. We are called to thank God at all times, in all situations. Of course, it is easy to make all these statements. We know intellectually that these things are true. However, in practice, an attitude of thankfulness is not as easy as one might think.

Since thanksgiving is required, let’s consider some ways that we can learn to be thankful.

  • Make a list of things for which you are thankful. Begin with some simple things like family, home, food, shelter, friends.
  • Practice being thankful. Recognize that we can be thankful in everything. God has given us all we need to live, to grow and to thrive. Thank him for all these things.
  • Learn to thank others for all that they do in your lives. There are people who care for you, love you, look up to you, and whom you look up to. Be sure to thank them all.
  • Tell others about what God has done for you. Be thankful and let others know that you are thankful. A spirit of thanksgiving is contagious. When you share your gratitude with others they will get grateful.
  • Commit yourself to being more thankful every day. Decide that each day this week you will express thanks to one person. Next week thank two people each day.
  • Spend time each day thanking God. It may just be a few minutes, but make it a priority to share your gratitude with the Lord.
  • Look for things to be thankful for. Pay attention to the little things in life and be grateful for them.
  • Realize that everything in your life comes from someone or somewhere else (God). Any good thing that happens is from Him. This will help you develop an attitude of thankfulness.
  • Gratitude should be a discipline for Christians. That means that we should not only think about thanksgiving in November. We should cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving. Each of us should learn to be thankful in every part of our lives. I am going to be more thankful during this Thanksgiving season. I hope that you will join me.

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