November is approaching and so is the beloved (and often overlooked) holiday of Thanksgiving. Each year in November there is an explosion of 30 thankful days posted to social media. Pictures of loved ones, friends, homes, pumpkin spice lattes and quotes that litter the internet. And for 30 straight days we hear of what everyone is grateful for and why. While I love this obligatory challenge of thanks, as we head into the holiday season and gear up for the new year, it’s important we remember what it means to be thankful.
What it means to be thankful
In American we have a very skewed understanding of what it means to be thankful. We are spoiled by abundance! Did you know that if you live in America you are already in the top 10 percent richest people in the world? Congratulations! That seems huge to say, but can easily become buried in the thoughts of things we don’t have. It also highlights the plenty of what we do have, which quickly becomes our gauge for what we are thankful for. We become grateful for the new car we bought this year, the new home we moved into, the bonus at work, the vacation we took and the money in our savings account. We become grateful for the “extras” in life.
But being thankful doesn’t mean we only acknowledge the things we have because we were born into a bountiful society. Being thankful means giving thanks for each thing we have, lavish or mundane. For a mom it might mean drinking that hot cup of coffee before it ran cold or finishing the laundry all in one day. We can be thankful for waking up that morning, for the breath in our lungs, and the breeze in the air. Even the most financially poor person has something they can be grateful for, and we can’t use wealth as a measure for our thankfulness.
Being Thankful in all moments
Being grateful isn’t just words or a social media post. Thankfulness is an attitude and posture of our hearts. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 the writer reminds us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus“. Because we are redeemed in Christ we have zero excuse NOT to give thanks in every moment. We should be grateful in every second of the day that God has chosen to extend his grace and redeem us from sin. God is worthy of our constant praise, not just when we receive gifts from him.
We can’t use wealth as a measure for thankfulness
Can I be the first one to attest to how difficult this is? It is much easier to demonstrate gratitude when I’ve had a good night’s sleep, when my belly is full and there’s money in the account for a haircut. But being thankful is not rooted in our condition. Our thankfulness is rooted in our faith and belief that regardless of the storm surrounding us, God is GOOD and worthy of exaltation.
When we replace the everyday things we can be grateful for with with the luxuries in our lives, we miss the whole point of giving thanks. Being grateful isn’t just demonstrating gratitude for the major events or blessings we receive, it is being appreciative for each thing we have. It’s an opportunity to share Christ with others, being grateful and joyful while exhibiting a Christ like attitude even in moments when our situation is rough.
How to be ‘thankful ‘
Being thankful according to the ways described in the Bible is hard. Really hard. So how can we demonstrate this type of gratitude? Well, for one genuine thanks to God is self-less and not self- serving. On social media it’s especially hard not to post our gratitude in a way that is boastful. “New car! Thank you God for the money to buy a brand new SUV!”. Yes, we should absolutely give glory to God for things we receive! However, while posts like this may seem innocent, they tend to indicate that God’s love is conditional, and that whoever is the recipient of these forms of blessings are more loved than others. It paints a very inaccurate picture of who God is. His love is not based on condition and is not limited to some more than others.
I definitely struggle with self- serving gratitude on social media! What will get me the most likes, or make me look good are battles I fight when choosing what picture to upload. But if our goal is to make ourselves look good then the genuine heart of gratitude is completely absent.
Find Joy in the Lord
As I mentioned before, our appreciativeness isn’t grounded in our circumstance. Our thankful heart is a living exhibit of our transformation in Christ. That fender bender last week? While you may not be glad it happened, you can still be thankful that God is in control of the finances to repair it. The marriage that is crumbling may seem impossible to find gratitude in, but you can still be thankful that Jesus is the ultimate groom who will never disappoint.
There is never a justifiable reason to not be thankful, no matter what you are going through. God is still good and that will always be true regardless of your circumstance. That is something to be thankful for.
30 Days of Random Acts of Kindness
Thanksgiving may just be a Holiday, but it is an important season that extends the opportunity to give others reason to be thankful for! This November, not only challenge yourself to be thankful for everything in all circumstance, but also to give others reasons for appreciation. Here are 30 Random Acts of Kindness you can do with your family this month .
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God
2 Corinthians 9:11
- Pay it forward by covering the bill for the car behind you in a drive thru line
- Reach out to a friend who you haven’t spoken to in a while
- Send an encouraging text to let someone know they’re on your mind
- Leave your server an extra tip
- Say yes to a friend when they ask for your help
- Donate Money at your local grocery store check out for donations to a charity
- Donate Time to watch your friends kids so they can enjoy a date night together or get holiday shopping done
- Donate goods old or unused items to your local Goodwill for donation
- Mail a card to a friend to send them encouragement, gratitude or congratulations
- Send a care package to a friend or family member
- Fill a Shoebox through Samaritan’s purse to a child in need! Find out more here
- Bake for work bring your workplace a handbaked (or storebought) sweet treat to work to share with coworkers
- Volunteer at your child’s school to help out in the classroom
- Open doors for others when entering or leaving a building
- Buy a meal for another party’s bill the next time you go out to eat
- Rake leaves for your neighbor
- Leave an encouraging comment on someone’s social media post
- Let the person behind you cut in front of you in line
- Buy a loved one flowers
- Take your significant other on an impromptu date
- Offer to take someone’s grocery cart inside
- Leave change in the vending machine
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Leave an encouraging note for others to see in a public place
- Treat a friend to coffee
- Give your child’s teacher a gift
- Support a friend’s business
- Pick up litter at a local park
- Pay a stranger a compliment
- Take flowers to a nursing home
These 30 opportunities are simply an extension of your own gratitude and thankfulness. It isn’t merely a fleeting emotion that is invoked one time a year. Just like salvation, thankfulness is a permanent transformation. God is good my friend, and we always have the opportunity to share that with others in a self-less and joyful way.
Don’t forget to print your free Thanksgiving printable below↓
Happy Thanksgiving friend!