With Thanksgiving Day on the horizon I’d like to put forth something to think about.
Thanksgiving is a day in which we pause to give thanks. Why do we do this? Why do we take a day out of our lives to be thankful?
The tradition began with the Pilgrims who traveled to the New World of America. They were thankful for their new land and their new home.
The world we live in today has taken this historical teaching and tells us that we should be thankful for all we have. This is not a bad idea but it misses the point totally.
Thanksgiving and being thankful are a world apart.
To be thankful is an appreciation for things and stuff. Thanksgiving is worship to a Provider.
When we are thankful for things and stuff, to whom or what is our thanks directed to?
Here’s is a mighty thought. If you were sending out a thank you card it would need to be addressed to the one whom you are thankful to. To give thanks there must be a target for your appreciation. Someone must receive your thanks.
I believe this is the missing link in today’s celebration of Thanksgiving. We shouldn’t just be thankful people we need to be thankful to the God who is, or should be, the target of our appreciation.
To be thankful to nothing for something is an empty thanksgiving. How can you give thanks to nothing? How can you be thankful, if what you are grateful for has no origin from which it came?
Many people like to state what they are thankful for especially at Thanksgiving time. Who is it that is receiving your thanksgiving for that which you are thankful for? If I’m thankful for my life, my things and the stuff I’ve been able to accumulate, it sounds like I’m pretty thankful to and for ME!
Have you ever really thought about who you are thankful to? We all think about the things we are thankful for but do we take time to acknowledge where it came from. Have you ever really been thankful to someone higher than yourself or higher than your fellow human?
The statement, “I’m thankful for _______” (you fill in the blank), is an idolatrous statement if the one whom you are thankful to is not recognized.
What I am thankful for revolves around me. It’s a personal statement. It’s about me. It’s about the item I am thankful for. I’m thankful for this item because it serves me in my need, desire or want.
It’s not wrong to be thankful for things and stuff. We should be very grateful for what we have. But sometimes I think we miss to Whom we are thankful.
True thanksgiving must be directed to the target of your appreciation or it’s a pretty empty act of giving. You cannot give to a thing. To do so would be idolatry for sure.
Most of us are good at teaching our kids to be thankful for the things, stuff and blessings they have received and acquired. This Thanksgiving I believe we should be teaching them whom to be thankful to.
To be thankful for something is inward. To be thankful to someone is an outward giving. It is to or toward the target of our appreciation. This thanksgiving is directed to whom we have received that which we are thankful for.
Pastor Thomas R. Swain
First Church of God