The Danger in “Thanks”giving

img_6353Austin and I have never been more kind to one another than during the week of our honeymoon. It was the first week of marriage, and we were elated to have finally entered this season of life. When he left his dirty underwear in the floor during honeymoon week, I just chuckled and picked them up. And whenever I got snippy with him before my morning coffee, he found a way to tickle the frustration out of me without allowing my attitude to bother him.

But like all good things, this season did come to an abrupt end.

Don’t get me wrong, we do seek to treat one another with respect, but it is a lot harder when we are going through the motions of everyday life. Our nature is to seek first our own comforts and not let the other get in the way of that. Pushing away that inclination is part of what makes marriage so tough. It is part of what also makes doing life with people tough.

While we were reminiscing about the bliss of our honeymoon this morning, we realized that this attitude is creeping into our hearts and many others during this holiday season. Tomorrow we will sit around tables with those we love. Those we would say we are most thankful for. We will smile, laugh, fellowship. We will eat until we can no longer, watch games, play in childhood backyards. We will see people we have missed since this time last year and love on little ones new to our families. We will do all these things while forgetting the bigger picture.

The picture is of the One who provides our joys.

Thanksgiving and holiday season in general can be a beautiful season where we spend time simply loving one another. Yet that is the danger in thanksgiving. We cannot neglect that the things and relationships we foster on this earth are just that—on this earth. This year, Austin and I were faced with the harsh reality that our worldly relationships, no matter how precious they may be, will not necessarily continue throughout our entire stay in this land.

But there is one who is constant, and He is the one that gave us those relationships to begin with. He has the power to give, the love to take, and the mercy to rescue us from the brokenness of this earth.

It’s not about not being thankful; it’s about having an understanding of who deserves the thanks.

I fear we too often spend this season blissfully missing the point.

I fear that we spend way too much of our time during the holidays “feeling thankful” for fullsizerenderthe material. We do not realize that feeling is not in fact “thanks,” but rather a kind of lust.

Rather than genuinely considering the gravity of the glory of God and how He displays that glory through our blessings here, we focus on desires that bring us comfort. Those things may very well be good—family, health, wealth, positions, relationships. But they are not eternal, because they will remain on this earth when we leave it.

We have an entire month dedicated to fixing our eyes on the provider and the Savior of
this universe. Let’s begin doing that. Fixing our eyes, our heart, our thanks on Jesus and to Jesus. I want to pose this question as we enter this holiday season:

Does our thankfulness propel us to worship God for our physical blessings, or does it propel us to worship God for His sacrificial death and resurrection that saves our souls?

His sacrifice for our souls is what we are to rejoice in! If we do not have that, what do we have? A few years of material wealth? Superficial relationships that neglect to go deep? A job that others aspire to? Friends, these things will fade. But His sacrifice is forever. It gives the earthly things we have here value beyond this earth because we get to use them for His glory! We get to take a job or our wealth or our relationships and further His name with them. We get to be blissful in all seasons, not just the ones with hot chocolate and turkey. We get to turn our lust after happiness and turn it into joy that holds us together when relationships fall apart, loved ones leave us, and our positions crumble.

Let us challenge one another today, tomorrow, and each day forward to back our thanksgiving with the understanding that His love is the first and foremost thing we are to be thankful for. Then that thanksgiving can and will bleed deeply into our friendships, love for our families, even the food laid before us on tables tomorrow. It will be genuine, not superficial. It will give us the ability to actively seek God’s face more clearly in sorrow, in mundane, and in the joy of this sweet holiday season.

• • • • • • • • • • •

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 ESV

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