Give Thanks in All You Do
Give Thanks in All You Do
I am not against holidays, exchanging gifts or festivities; but, do we really need a “day” to remind us to be thankful? Is it possible that we have become so self-absorbed and self-centered that we forget that saying “Thank you” honors God and those that distinguish themselves through service? I am not talking about the perfunctory “thank you” that is thrown around without so much as an acknowledgement of what we are thankful for, and certainly not the kind of “thank you” that reminds one of a conditioned response like Pavlov’s dogs. Because if that is our current state, we have bigger problems. I don’t mean to be cynical but doesn’t 2 Timothy 3:2-4 (NLT) warn us of times like this:
“For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.”
Timothy is talking about the “end of days” but it feels like he could be just about any given day; especially with recent events in South Carolina, Texas and California. It can be downright depressing. It is easy to question, or blame God, when something bad happens; and it is easy to give thanks when something good happens but Ephesians 5:20 tells us to “always give thanks” and 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances.”
We don’t usually have a problem giving thanks for all the good stuff, but how do we give thanks for the bad? I have asked myself this question many time over my lifetime and I really couldn’t find a way to answer it until I heard Pastor Roy Barrett (Discover Life Church) say “sometimes we need the bad stuff to remind us just how far God has brought us. If you only have good things it is not possible to compare it to anything; and isn’t that how we take things for granted.”
Good things happen, and bad things happen; it’s called life. How we respond, now that is something we can work with. If you need an example of being thankful in bad times take a moment to think of Jesus. How would you react if you knew the person that was going to betray you was seated at the table and you were headed to the cross? Jesus, “on the night when he was betrayed, took some bread and gave thanks to God for it.”
There are many reasons that we should be grateful and thankful. We give God thanks for blessing, we sometimes blame Him for our ill fortunes but most of the time don’t we just take for granted what He does for us. It is easy in this fast-paced world, perhaps not intentionally, to forget or neglect thankfulness. If you need to be reminded about some of the things we may have taken for granted, as I occasionally do, these are just a few:
- Be thankful, if you are reading this article; 1.1 million people in America are blind.
- Be thankful, if you can read; approximately 32 million adults in America are considered to be illiterate; about 14% of the entire adult population cannot read (https://www.statisticbrain.com/number-of-american-adults-who-cant-read/)
- Be thankful, if you ate today; 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table.
- Be thankful, if you have a job; 12.5 million Americans are unemployed and 88.4 million are not in the labor force (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Be thankful, if you woke up with a place to sleep; on any given night in January 2015, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness— (National Alliance to End Homelessness).
- Be thankful, God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say, "thank you?" (William A. Ward)
Thanksgiving isn’t about saying the words; it is about setting the example. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” I believe that it is possible to live, and provide leadership, through living a “thankful life.’ The key is to this is to Live and Lead Like Jesus by aligning our:
- Heart to the needs of those we serve. Friends, family, co-workers need to hear and see that we value and care for them; especially in the bad times.
- Head to think of and recognize the acts of service and sacrifice that others make for us.
- Hands to join in and participate. Don’t be a spectator.
- Habits to find the things that people are doing right and thank them. Make it personal and remember to be specific about we are thankful.
To lead like Jesus requires that we start with ourselves. It requires patience, humility, sacrifice, honesty, showing concern and being honest with others, forgiving ourselves and others for mistakes, and that we seek to trust, protect and preserve our relationships, especially with God. Jesus accomplished all of this in His leadership because above all else He loved. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV) reminds us that like leadership:
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Isn’t this the kind of “leadership” we all want? Robert Caspar Lintner said “Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” I believe that if we challenge ourselves daily to be thankful with our words, and through our actions that our family, church, and workplace lives would be vastly enriched. I believe that our relationships with each other, and with God would reach new heights established through love. Wouldn’t that be something we could truly be “Thankful” for?
Challenge: John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Take a few moments to re-read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 above and start putting the principles into action. Remember you don’t have to limit these to a day so exercise them regularly.