ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful." Col. 3:15
Using the well-known words of The Preacher spoken in Eccl. 3:1 "To everything there is a season" I'll launch our editorial today which will be some thoughts about this season and the coming holiday next Thursday - Thanksgiving. It's my belief that, if we were to relegate just one day out of the year in which to celebrate this holiday, this "season," the fall of the year, would be the most appropriate one in which to observe it.
However, it is also my belief that there should not be "just one day" wherein we are to be thankful. Being "thankful," or "grateful," for the measure of blessings we've received should be a continuing, or daily, effort on our part. In this lesson I'll provide you with passages from God's Word that tells us that very thing. That being always "thankful" and "grateful" is part and parcel of the character of God's People - the "called."
Back to the thought about Thanksgiving Day being appropriate to the fall season, it's only fitting that a day of thanksgiving would come after the harvest. A time when it's natural to think about the bountiful gifts from God with which we've been blessed.
And I want you to know that this idea of setting aside a particular time to be reminded of these blessings is nothing new. At the giving of the Mosaic Law to God's People, the Israelites, they were commanded to observe a "sacrifice of thanksgiving." (Lev. 22:29) This passage will tie into a thought to be mentioned later in this editorial.
Later on, when the Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon and had completed the reconstruction of the wall at Jerusalem, Nehemiah proclaimed a day of "gladness" and "thanksgiving" with a great celebration surrounding it. (Neh. 12:27)
The Psalms are replete throughout with the idea of being "grateful and thankful" to God for everything we have. I'll cite to you one of them as an example. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord He is God; it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endureth for all generations." (Psalm 100)
"Giving thanks" (thanksgiving) and being "thankful" is a much used phrase in the Bible and if you haven't ever taken the time to look up the translated meaning of it, allow me to tell you what you will find should you do so. "Thanksgiving" in both the Greek and Hebrew languages means "having gratitude" or "being grateful" When Paul told us in Col 3:15 ".... and be ye thankful" it would be just as correct if he had said "...be ye grateful."
As we mentioned earlier, gratefulness to God is a major plank in the character structure of a Christian. And, it stands to reason that, if we show "gratitude" and "thankfulness" to God, we will do likewise with our fellow man. The well-known Greek author, Aesop, once penned these words: "Gratitude is the sign of noble souls." It's my humble opinion that it is the total character of a Christian that makes our soul "noble."
By the same token, someone who is "ungrateful" or "unthankful" would not possess a soul that is righteous with God. Now, don't take my word for it, notice what Paul tells us in 2Tim. 3:1-3. Here he gives us the flip-side, so to speak, to a soul that is "thankful." Just look at the souls that the "unthankful" are synonymous with: "the covetous, the boasters, the proud, the blasphemers, the disobedient to parents, the unholy, those without natural affection, the trucebreakers, the false accusers, the incontinent, the fierce and the despisers of those that are good."
Think about it for a moment - what's being talked about in those verses? In the comparison of "thankful and grateful" souls with those souls that Paul lays alongside - the "unthankful" or the "ungrateful?" What's being talked about and described are ATTITUDES. And, "unthankful" is an attitude not appreciated by God.
And, I would venture to say that it is an attitude not appreciated by us either. I know that one of my pet bug-a-boos is a display of ingratitude on the part of my fellow human beings. A person who isn't "grateful or thankful" is both a selfish and conceited person and I find them hard to be around. When you consider how "ungrateful and unthankful" people affect us, is it hard to realize how that attitude appears to God? To the One to whom we "live and move, and have our being..." (Acts 17:28)
When I mentioned the part about the "unthankful" being selfish and conceited, and to add more scriptural evidence to what Paul said in 2Timothy, let's take a quick look at something he said in Romans the 1st chapter. Notice, that in speaking about the "ungodly" and the "unrighteous" (vs 18), in verse 21 he says that "they knew God" but they did not "glorify Him as God" and "neither were they thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened (full of darkness)." We see there that the "unthankful" are comparable to being "ungodly and unrighteous."
I think that I've provided sufficient scriptural proof, even though there is more that I could present, to show that the character of "ingratitude and unthankfulness" is 180 degrees opposite of the character of a Christian. Opposed to the character of a "noble soul" or one approved of by God.
If you remember that far back, I mentioned earlier that we would return to a thought relating to the passage in Lev. 22:29. That was where the Israelites were commanded to offer "Thanksgiving Sacrifices." I'd like to take you on into verse 30 and have you note some words written there. I can see a correlation to the sacrifice of that family of God's People to the events of God's People next Thursday: "It shall be eaten on the same day: you shall leave none of it until morning. I am the Lord."
I am overjoyed to have found the Lord's command regarding the "sacrifice of Thanksgiving" as to it's consumption. I intend to sacrifice a "turkey of Thanksgiving" and I feel that I now have scriptural authority for doing my best to eat it all on the same day.
I'll close this lesson by citing to you a prayer once offered by an old Scottish preacher:
"I thank Thee, O Lord God, that though with liberal hand Thou has at all times showered thy blessing upon our human kind, yet in Jesus Christ Thou hast done greater things for us than Thou ever didst before: Making home sweeter and friends dearer; Turning sorrow into gladness and pain into the soul's victory; Robbing death of its sting; Robbing sin of its power; Making peace more peaceful and joy more joyful and faith and hope more secure In Jesus name, Amen."