Thursday, November 28, 2013

The act of giving thanks

Susie's traditional, and delicious, holiday cranberry jello
It is that time of year when most folks’ minds turn to being thankful. That is, of course, entirely appropriate. I know that I have been blessed and have much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my gracious God, my beautiful wife, my wonderful family, my great friends, the hard-working folks at my company, my church, my health, and so many more things that did not immediately pop into my mind.

My pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning, however, made me think about another aspect of thankfulness. He pointed out the importance of expressing thankfulness to others. We often make a point of having an attitude of gratitude, but don’t bother to express that gratitude to others.

I’ve often thought about how the apostle Paul had plenty of reason to complain given his situation. He was imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked, driven out of town, and beaten, among other things. Instead of lamenting his situation, he was thankful to God. 

What I had not thought about before was how he expressed his thanks to those around him. For example, early in his letter to the Philippians he says, “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 days until now.” (By the way, note the use of “you all” in the Bible!) How must reading that have made the folks at Philippi feel? Here was Paul, the great champion of the faith, saying how thankful to God he was for them.

Crucially, Paul was very specific. He didn’t just say, “I’m thankful for you guys.” Instead of a cheap, general blanket thanks, he told them he was thankful for how they had been both early adopters of the gospel and had remained faithful. (See also Romans 1:8; Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:3-5; 2 Thessalonians 1:2-3; and 1 Timothy 2:1 for similar examples in Paul’s letters.)

I’m going try and follow Paul's example by doing my best to be specifically thankful to people during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hopefully, by the end of that time, I’ll be in the habit of being more vocal with my thanks. You have to admit, it is hard to see a downside to trying this!

So, thanks for reading this blog. I really do appreciate you and the other folks who take some of their precious time to read what I may have time to say. I hope you take this entry to heart and express your thanks to those around you. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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