What does November mean to you? Perhaps a beloved's birthday; maybe falling foliage, flying footballs, and a family feast. How about fallen veterans, Friday vacations, and flu vaccinations? For some, it's an awfully annoying amount of alliteration.
In America, the most obvious highlight in November is Thanksgiving Day. The seeds of this official holiday sprouted in 1789 with George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation. The original manuscript is being auctioned at Christie's in New York on the 14th for about $12 million. Some well-to-do collector will see great value in this historic document. President Washington saw great value in the need to thank God for His blessings.
I heard someone on the radio say there are no examples in the Bible of people thanking one another. This is not meant to encourage discourtesy. We all know how it feels to do something for someone -- letting a driver in ahead of you, or giving someone a present -- and not be acknowledged. If we're really sensitive, we get insulted by the disconnected thanks from the clerk who mechanically mumbles, "Thankshaveagoodone" or the child on the phone whose Mommy can be heard in the background saying, "Tell Auntie Em 'Thank you' for the nice sweater!" We all like to receive sincere expressions of appreciation. A giver deserves gratitude.
Bart Simpson once prayed, "Dear God. We paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing." What this profane painted personality fails to see with his penciled-in pupils is that God deserves thanks, not just for our food but absolutely everything! Let's add it all up:
"You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:18). "You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth" (Psalm 104:14).
The apostle Paul used an agricultural analogy to illustrate the work of the gospel: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:6 - 7). Man can work as hard as he can, but if God doesn't bring results, the work is in vain.
"Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17, NRSV). Even the act of giving is energized by God.
"What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" (1 Corinthians 4:7). "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
In light of the goodness of the Father of lights, this is how we should live:
"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17). Although we may not understand what is going on in and around us, we can be thankful that God is a loving Father.
Notice that the thankful posture is linked to a standing in Jesus Christ. Speaking of those who, having savingly responded to the gospel of Christ, were motivated to give generously to the poor, Paul cries, "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15). Better by far than the Corinthians' generosity was the grace of God wrapped in the gift of salvation through the Son of God.
The fruit and higher purpose of giving thanks -- to anyone and for anything -- is for thanks-giving to abound to the glory of God (Luke 17; 2 Corinthians 9:10 - 15).
Let us not just be grateful for our plateful, but let us live in an attitude of gratitude!