If We Aren’t Acting, We’re Lip-Synching
Thanksgiving Day is often marked with an “official” day off from work, holiday sales, annual pageants and parades, and of course, football. But as Thanksgiving Day approaches, we need to make a distinction between the “tradition” and “the meaning of Thanksgiving.”
In the Bible, the meaning of thanksgiving reflected adoration, sacrifice, praise, or an offering. It is difficult to deny that this meaning has become overshadowed by the tradition and the commercialization of the holiday. Between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving Day), approximately 54% of the US population, shopped in stores and on-line. In contrast, according to church researcher Thom Rainer, Thanksgiving Day doesn’t make the list for the top 4 high attendance days at church.
The act of giving thanks is driven by our internal and external motivations. It is important to acknowledge that both motivations are required to fulfill the meaning of thanksgiving. Giving thanks without action is like lip-synching a song. You may know the words, but you’ll miss the meaning of the song. Conversely, action without praise is like dancing the moonwalk. It looks like we are moving backwards while creating the illusion of moving forward.
Our internal focus makes us feel a sense of appreciation and gratitude. Our hearts are motivated to praise and worship God for His goodness. We are humbled that God is moved by His goodness to bless us. 1 Chronicles 16:8 (GW) calls us to:
“Give thanks to the Lord.
Call on his name.
Make known among the nations what He has done.”
The internal motivation moves us to praise and worship, but this alone isn’t enough. Our external motivation drives us to act as an expression, and outpouring, of our gratitude such as the tradition of gathering our families, sharing a meal, reflecting and teaching the young about Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving isn’t about the pilgrims, it about God. We are reminded in 1 Chronicles 23:30 (NLV), “to stand every morning and evening to thank and praise the Lord.” We know that that every God-given day is worthy of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day is motivated by the heart, not the calendar.
In Spanish, “Thanksgiving Day” is translated to “El Día de acción de gracias.” Translated the phrase means “The Day of Thanksgiving Action.” This definition requires us to not only give thanks but serve other for their betterment. James 2:17 (TLB) reminds us that words are not enough to demonstrate our faith:
“So, you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is dead and useless.”
Feeding the homeless, donating a food bag, volunteering to read to children, and working to rescue animals are worthy of praise and serve the needs of others. But, we can also act to change the atmosphere of our home, church or workplace by simply saying “Thank You.”
Just how important is gratitude? Feeling unappreciated or being taken for granted are major reasons for divorce and job dissatisfaction. In his 2007 book, “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier” (2007), psychologist Robert Emmons, states that “gratitude improves emotional and physical health, and it can strengthen relationships and communities.” Research shows that saying “Thank You” can significantly improve your marriage, relationships, and your workplace.
If these aren’t enough reasons to convince you of the importance of giving thanks, remember Jesus gave thanks to God at least 5 times. The results of His thanksgiving, He raised Lazarus from the dead, and fed at least 9,000 with a few loaves of bread and some fish (John 11:41, John 6:10-11, and Matthew 15: 35-38, NIV). When you read these passages, note Jesus’ criteria for His thanksgiving:
- Be specific: Don’t give a thanks for everything; rather, identify the specific act for which you are grateful. In John 11:41, Jesus says “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.”
- Be timely: Your expression of gratitude should close to the event you are thankful for. Jesus thanks God immediately.
- Couple your thanks with an offer of reciprocity: While it may not be stated, others want to know that they can count on you too.
- Finally, and most importantly, be genuine. Jesus gave thanks in prayer to the Father. There was no pretense in His thankfulness. You and your audience know the difference. Haven’t you heard a thank you that was ceremonial and not sincere?
Thanksgiving allows us to show gratitude for all things. We don’t not have the power to raise the dead; but, by saying “Thank You”, we do have the power to breathe life into our relationships and change the atmosphere where we live, work and play.
Challenge: Examine the different areas where you, work and play to find where you can increase your thanksgiving. Make it a point to increase your expression of gratitude in these areas. If you struggle to find some consider some of these:
- Spouse or significant other: Thank you for the way that you provide your time, energy and effort to make sure our family is provided for. I know that you often make sacrifices so we can spend time as a family or that other needs can be met. I really appreciate it.
- To our children: I want to thank you for how you make us proud. The way that you are responsible and help around the house, your diligence in school, the way you help others. We don’t doubt your integrity or question your behavior. We are so blessed as parents by the way you behave.
- Employees, co-workers or bosses: Thank you for the trust and confidence that you show me. I appreciate your willingness to help when I need it and the freedom to grow and learn from my mistakes. I hope you know you contribute to my success.
Impact the World - One Leader at a Time
We need your prayers and financial partnership to impact the world – one leader at a time. Your donation of $10, $15 or $20 makes a difference! Thank you!