Sandwiched between ghosts in flight and Silent Night . . . a witch on a broom and an inn with no room . . . is Thanksgiving. For many, it is a time of fellowship with family and friends, fabulous food, and a little football—OK, in some homes, maybe a lot of football! The day is marked by hours of preparation, fifteen minutes of eating, and hours of clean-up. It would be hard for a stranger to our culture to recognize the season of Thanksgiving, because as soon as the Halloween decorations come down, the Christmas decorations go up! Only grocery stores get excited about Thanksgiving.
Because Thanksgiving is not a major money maker for the department stores, we may not give it the attention we should. If we are not careful, we can confine Thanksgiving to a mere day of feasting, rather than a way of faithful living. Here are three practical steps to help us move from Thanksgiving to Thanks-living.
The first key in moving from Thanksgiving to Thanks-living is to live thankfully. This will only be done when we re-orient our focus from ourselves to our Savior. With our focus firmly fixed on our Savior, our thoughts will ultimately rest on His cross. When the crucified Christ is the center of our lives, we can live in no other way than thankfully.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
The second key in moving from Thanksgiving to Thanks-living is to live worshipfully. Once the cross becomes central in our lives, worship becomes our way of living. To use a theological term, it is living doxologically before the face of God. We live grace-filled, Gospel-saturated, God-centered lives. We worship Jesus—not only on Sunday, but every day, everywhere, and in every way. We sing His praises in the boardroom, living room, family room, bedroom, schoolroom, lunchroom, and locker room.
For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Corinthians 9:12-15)
The third key in moving from Thanksgiving to Thanks-living is to live generously. What do you have that you have not been given? (1 Corinthians 4:7.) If everything we have is a gift from the hand of God, how can we live in any other way than generously? The more we have, the more we are in debt to the One who has given it to us, and the more we should be driven to meet the physical needs of others. It is a mistake to think the Gospel meets only the spiritual needs of the lost. To be sure, it does that, but it also meets physical needs as well. If it did not, how would we explain the two loaves and the five fish that fed thousands instead of Jesus sending them away hungry? How would we explain the miracles of Jesus in making the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the sick well, the dead alive? When we get the Gospel deep down into the marrow of our bones, we live lives marked by generosity, remembering that God loves a cheerful giver.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
As you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day in whatever way you choose to celebrate it, take a moment to reflect on these three keys that will take a day of Thanksgiving and turn it into a life of Thanks-living.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!