What comes to mind for most Americans when they think of the word “thanksgiving”? Usually their mouths begin watering as they imagine stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and a turkey fresh out of the oven. That definitely crosses my mind too!
This, in my humble opinion, is a problem. Don’t get me wrong! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the American holiday of Thanksgiving. It brings friends and family together for a time of awesome fellowship. But for followers of Jesus, the word “thanksgiving” should provoke much more than thoughts of a delicious holiday meal.
Thanksgiving should be a lifestyle for Christians. Why? Because it causes us to remember what the Lord has done for us. All throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites are encouraged to remember what God did for them (Ex. 13:3; Deut. 15:5; 1 Chron. 16:12) because it increased their faith to withstand whatever circumstances they were in at the time. The same occurs in the New Testament as well (Eph. 2:11; 2 Tim 2:8).
This was a common practice for the Israelites. In order for them to enter the tabernacle, they had to pass through the “Gate of Thanksgiving.” This is what the psalmist was referring to in Psalm 100:4. Considering our bodies are now tabernacles for the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), we too should enter His gates with thanksgiving when we come before His throne in prayer. If we “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,” we can’t help but to remember what He has done for us in the past. This will cause us to have faith that He can carry us through the present. Thanksgiving also helps to lifts any burdens we are carrying, allowing us to pray more effectively.
But thanksgiving should not only occur in prayer. It should be an attitude that we carry in our day-to-day activities. Having an “attitude of gratitude” will put an end to any complaints that may arise in your heart. For instance, when that steak isn’t cooked as well as you would’ve liked, instead of complaining, you can be thankful that you even have food on your plate, which is a luxury many people in this world don’t have. Or when your boss is being unfair to you, you can still be thankful that you have a steady job, unlike millions of Americans right now.
If Jesus, the suffering servant, was able to have an attitude of gratitude (Matt. 11:25; Mark 14:23; John 11:41), how much more should we! So I encourage you to make thanksgiving more than a holiday. Make it a lifestyle.
This post was written by Adam Hunter, a current a mentor for the new Students. Adam shared with me his heart for thankfulness while he and I were in the cafeteria one day, so I felt obliged to bring such passion to the BCOM blog. Thanks Adam.