Humankind has the most unique relationship to its Creator. It is stated in the Bible that we are created in the image of God. We are inbreathed with God’s breath of life, which makes us a “living soul” with a distinctive bond with our Maker. This exclusive rapport is the only one of its kind in all of God’s creation. Our inimitable affiliation with God allows a communion with Him that no other of His establishment enjoys.
Such a special connection places upon us particular responsibilities. We have an extraordinary accountability in the scheme of God’s plan for His universe. We are given stewardship over all the rest of His creation.
Included in our out of the ordinary liaison with our Creator are God’s serious instructions to be forever thankful for our blessings. The God-given capacity to be grateful for our blessings sets us apart with exceptional liability.
Thanksgiving Day did not begin with the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The tradition is much older than that. In fact, it was written into God’s Word early in the history of Israel. The “Thank Offering” expressed the gratitude of the one making the offering for some blessing received. 2 Chronicles 29:31 reads like this: Then Hezekiah said, “You have now dedicated yourselves to the Lord. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the temple of the Lord.” Therefore, the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing, brought burnt offerings.
The New Testament strongly emphasizes the necessity of thanksgiving to make us “whole” in Christ Jesus. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give thanks to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him “Rise and go; your faith has made you whole.” - Luke 17:15-19
Genuine thankfulness has great significance. Just as our ancestors came to the New World to escape the bondage of those who would bring them under the subjugation of an oppressive government and religious tyranny, so we as Christians have fled to the Lord Jesus and have been set free from our enemy, the Devil. When we were servants of sin and Satan, we were the enemies of God. Now we have been reconciled to God by Jesus’ blood shed on the Cross.
As Christians, we should be thankful for God’s common grace. Our Lord cares for us and provides for our needs and we should increase in our thankfulness for his provision. John Calvin wrote, “Thankfulness is the soil in which pride does not easily grow.” For Christians, there is a more fundamental level to our thankfulness: We no longer stand in God’s judgment. Our sins are forgiven. Someone else bore the wrath for our unrighteousness.
The forgiveness of sins should make our hearts swell in thankfulness more than the two cars we have in our garage.
In fact, if our thankfulness is only informed by our material increase, then it is difficult to be thankful in times of great suffering. Yet, if the Gospel informs our thankfulness, then we can endure much poverty or affliction, awaiting our blessed hope.