Thanksgiving Day has a rich history but also carries with it a sober reminder of the cycle of life, offering up its spectacle of beauty in the colorful changing of leaves as the land dons its winter cloak. The best part of this season, however, is not in these garnishments but in the spirit behind the celebration. Being thankful seems like a lost art these days. Our lives are so filled with hustle and bustle that we don’t have time for God, family, or thanksgiving. But, this is nothing new, really. Forgetting to be thankful is common, and always has been.
Christians should be different. Thanksgiving should be a character trait so obvious that it is noticeable. We should be noted and unique for our quick response to any circumstance in being thankful, understanding that God gave the command, “Be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15). And, note further, it is a command and this implies certain things.
First, one cannot command emotions: Be ye thankful. Remember when Mom or Dad said of some distasteful dish, “You’ll eat it and enjoy it.” Now, most of us obeyed our parents and gagged down a bit of the nasty stuff but as to enjoying it… well, let’s just say we put on a good show. If one cannot command emotions, the idea of being thankful is not associated with any emotion – either good or bad. Therefore, when James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2), he did not expect us to become all giddy when we are persecuted. No, in fact, the rest of the statement explains the distinction: “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (v. 3). So, thankfulness has little to do with whether things are going good or not. The Christian can find a rose in a thorn-bush and be thankful.
Second, it is an individual command: Be ye thankful. Others cannot be thankful for us. Like much of Christianity, we cannot scapegoat, mitigate, or rationalize our personal responsibilities away with the brush of blame. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for those things we’ve done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10). Imagine the disappointment of the sacrificing saint whose ingratitude slams shut the doors of Heaven.
Finally, the expression carries with it several implications: Be ye thankful. It costs nothing but can pay dividends for life. It hurts no one but could be healing. It is a pleasure to receive and double the pleasure to give. It takes so little time to do yet often lasts a lifetime. With so many positive attributes, it makes one wonder why more of it isn’t going around.
Make thanksgiving a part of your life.