|Volume 21 Number 11 November 2019||
Gary C. Hampton
Ingratitude is a sin. Paul wrote about the downward spiral of the Gentiles into sin, including some thoughts on their failure to be grateful (Romans 1:21). He told a young preacher, “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” (2 Timothy 3:1-2). Only one leper returned to thank Jesus after the ten were cleansed. The Lord’s questions are telling. “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:11-19).
Bible examples demonstrate why we should be grateful. Jesus gave thanks before the feeding of the 4,000 (Mark 8:6). He thanked the Father for always hearing Him before commanding Lazarus to come forth from the grave (John 11:40-44). He also gave thanks for the bread and the cup during the time He was instituting the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:26-27). Paul often told of his prayers of thanksgiving for the churches to which he wrote letters (Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2).
Christians are commanded to be grateful. The apostle to the Gentiles wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Walking in Christ should result in abounding with thanksgiving. Christ’s followers should remain watchful in prayer with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7; 3:15; 4:2). Our singing is a means of “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
So, be thankful on Thanksgiving. Then, each day, let us all remember to give thanks as a clear indication that we are grateful to God.
For What Do We Give Thanks?
Dr. Ralph Wilson, on the website Joyful Heart, wrote these words about the first Thanksgiving.
On December 21, 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth rock. Through the dead of winter, the colony struggled with poor and meager food, strenuous labor, a biting wind that chilled to the bone and the ravages of disease. Nearly half the 102 Mayflower passengers did not live to see spring refresh Cape Cod Bay. Indians named Samoset, Squanto and Massasoit helped the English settlers plant, hunt and fish. The bountiful harvest that autumn led Governor Bradford to invite the Indians to celebrate God’s goodness. Ninety tall braves accepted the invitation to join the Pilgrims in a feast of Thanksgiving to God for His blessings.
What lesson did the Pilgrims learn that first Thanksgiving? For one, they learned they needed God. No matter how hard they had labored, they had to face issues beyond their control to survive. Who could have anticipated the harshness of that winter’s weather and the diseases that would strike them? Even after doing their best, they were not master of their own destiny. They also learned they needed others to help them cultivate the land, and they needed each other on whom to lean through those tough times. No wonder the Pilgrims and the Indians joined together for a celebration of thanksgiving. What they had for which to be most thankful was their relationship together.
As we approach another Thanksgiving holiday, there is so much for which we can grateful. God has richly blessed us, in spite of all the difficulties we face individually or as a nation. It is good to thank God for the blessings of life, especially since those blessings are dependent on their provision by God. We can still be thankful for a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, even if the stuff of life is not as abundant as we would like. Paul’s epistle to Philippian Christians reminds us, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13 NAS).
We should be thankful for having relationships with others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. In difficult times, they are there to encourage us and to lift our spirits. In good times, they are there to rejoice with us. It’s not what we can get out of others that counts, as much as it is what they mean to us. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His loving kindness is everlasting” (Psalm 136:1). “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10). Where would we be without God and Christ as well as without each other in Christ?
This Thanksgiving, be thankful you have family and friends with whom you can spend precious time together. Be thankful for the memories of family and friends who are no longer with you. Be thankful for all the material blessings God offers you, and be more grateful for the spiritual blessings provided in Christ. Be thankful for the nation in which we live, even with the problems it has. Be thankful for the specifics of your life that enable you to have the quality of life you have. Most importantly, though, be thankful for having a relationship with God, with Christ and with each other in Christ. These relationships will carry us on when the possessions of life pass. Without these relationships, what would we be and where would we be? What hope would we have? “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6).