Thanksgiving - God's Will for Those in Christ -
As a father of three children, I have several things that I must teach them as they grow up. One of them is to model for them to show gratitude in any circumstance. I want them to become a man and woman that always possesses and expresses a heart of gratitude. Thanksgiving is not just an American holiday: It is the deep desire of God for His children to possess.
In Luke 17:11-19, we read the story of Jesus who healed 10 men with leprosy, but only one man returned to Jesus to say thank you. This fact shocked Jesus saying, "Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?" Even more shockingly, these nine men were Jews, who were professing that they knew of Yahweh, the God of Israel, and this one man who came back to Jesus to express his gratitude was a Samaritan, who was considered an outcast among the Jews. But, to this Samaritan man who came back to Jesus to give thanks, He said, "Your faith has made you well."
The presence of ingratitude in one's life indicates his or her pride, which is the lack of humility; haughtiness, which is the sign of selfishness; and bitterness, which is a poison that kills everyone around including him or herself. The prideful say no thank you. The arrogant show no appreciation. The person with bitterness in his or her heart praises no one. Paul warned Timothy that in the last days, many will become "ungrateful" (2 Timothy 3:2). He also said that one of the main reasons that people turn away from God was because they did not give thanks to Him (Romans 1:21).
Being ungrateful is the first step in walking away from God. Lacking the heart of gratitude is a sign of departing from the presence and intimacy with Him. Ingratitude has no place in God's kingdom and in the life of devoted followers of Jesus. Even in the midst of trials and hardships, God's people will "offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 12:15). Upon this faith, God will show the way of His salvation (Psalm 50:23).
J. Oswald Sanders in his book, Spiritual Leadership, said that no one will learn about praying except by praying. In the same manner, we cannot become a man and woman of gratitude except by developing the habit of giving thanks. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul taught to be thankful in all circumstances because "this is God’s will for people who belong to Christ Jesus." During this Thanksgiving holiday season, I encourage you to give thanks for anything and to someone for which you are grateful. The Thanksgiving holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of being grateful, but more importantly, God's people must continue giving thanks in any and every circumstance, even in the season of trials and hardships. The followers of Christ should be marked as grateful people, always and in any season of life.