“True Thanksgiving”

Every year when November rolls around, we celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with our families for a special time over a nice home cooked meal, with turkey and the trimmings. This holiday has its origins in the harvest festival that the Pilgrims celebrated in 1621 in Virginia. So, for a typical Thanksgiving, we offer thanks before our meal, express appreciation for each other, and then retire to our beds once the food has settled. But is this really what Thanksgiving is all about?

The dictionary definition of the word “thanksgiving” is “an expression of gratitude, especially to God.” Quite fittingly, it appears in the NKJV Bible 33 times, along with the related word “thanks” appearing 105 times. The Scriptures clearly indicate the importance of having a heart of gratitude.

So, while there is nothing wrong with sharing good food with loved ones, the Word of God can provide guidance on how we can live out the true meaning of “thanksgiving.”

1) Being Thankful is Part of God’s Will. Sometimes, we go through bad days that make us just want to curl up in a ball and sleep the day away. Other times, we have days where everything goes according to our desires and swing in our favor. But regardless of how we feel or what became of our day, the Bible teaches us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So in good times or bad, let’s always be thankful to God.

2) Give Thanks in Our Prayers. In our personal prayer time with God, we often ask for advice, help, and direction in situations where we feel lost. Other times, we seek specific requests regarding the healing and protection of our loved ones. There are so many things we may ask, cry, and beg God for during this quiet reflection. But in Philippians, Paul encourages us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

3) Show Gratitude in All We Do. Things like helping someone in need or picking up trash in our neighborhood may seem small in or eyes. But in everything we do, Paul states that we should do it in the name of the Lord, and with gratitude – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

This Thanksgiving – what are you thankful for?