by Martin G. Collins
CGG Weekly, November 28, 2003
"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."
Distractions abound with all of the commercials enticing us to buy this TV or that video game for Christmas. For the more affluent, even auto manufacturers promote their cars as gifts for the holidays. The promotions seem to be endless. Christmas and Hanukkah decorations are going up everywhere—even earlier than in past years. Now other religions are demanding equal time to promote their paganism. Football and basketball games aplenty are available for those who wish to watch. And, as if that is not enough, blockbuster movies came out this week preceded by in-your-face preview marketing techniques.
With all this disruptive bombardment, you may have missed it, but the U.S. national holiday of Thanksgiving was on Thursday. Is it not a shame that a day set apart for thanking the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the Universe is barely given a cursory glance—if not entirely ignored?
Is it not a disgrace that so many are just plain unthankful, ungrateful, unappreciative? According to the apostle Paul's warning to Timothy, we at the end time should not consider people's thanklessness as a small thing:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (II Timothy 3:1-6)
Wow! Thanklessness is included in a nasty list of evil attitudes.
Why does it matter if we are unthankful? A thankless person shows a core character flaw—self-absorption. We see this attitude in many who perfunctorily observe Thanksgiving. American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, best known for relating Christian principles to modern politics, observes:
The Thanksgiving proclamations of the American presidents for the last two decades have increasingly departed from the original rather purely religious spirit of Thanksgiving, and they have increasingly become congratulations to God for having such wonderful children in America.
With this attitude, Thanksgiving just gets lost in the hustle and bustle of an over-commercialized and entertainment-driven society that refuses to take a little time to give thanks to a benevolent God for the blessings He bestows. Granted, it is not a God-ordained holy day, but it was designed as this nation's (and Canada's) attempt to acknowledge God's generosity. As a nation, we have failed miserably in this effort—or lack thereof.
In stark contrast, thankful people not only deeply appreciate their benevolent Creator but also reflect His care for others' well-being. The thankful appreciate their efforts and let them know how much they are appreciated, not to gain advantage, but in a genuine show of gratitude.
Thankfulness to God for His mercy and abundant blessings, manifested in a bountiful Thanksgiving meal, goes beyond a basic recognition of special blessings received. It acknowledges with reverence the true source of true knowledge and wisdom—and love, mercy, and a multitude of additional blessings. The tradition of Thanksgiving Day reminds us that thankfulness is not a onetime responsibility, but a life long commitment of virtuous character.
It would behoove us to follow the Israelite King David's promise to his Creator and Sustainer:
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever" (Psalm 30:11-12).
Thanksgiving is a tradition meant to promote wholesome values, beginning with thankfulness to God for abundant blessings. It is also an opportunity to serve others.
Thank You, God, for the abundant blessings You have bestowed upon us.
Thank you, ladies, for your hard work in preparing the Thanksgiving meal and all meals during the year.
Thank you, gentlemen, who prepared the house and carved the turkey.
Thank you, children, for helping your parents—your service is greatly appreciated.