A Thankful Attitude

     The uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Like many of my compatriots I love Thanksgiving for many reasons, chief among which are the family getting together and, of course, the food. There is just something about the turkey and the dressing and the cranberries and all of the other nap inducing delicacies that come along this time of year. It is just great.

     Thanksgiving is a harvest time holiday. Most cultures have some kind of festivity to mark a plenteous time. We are blessed in our part of the world to have more than enough most of the time. But many people in the world and even some close to us don’t have enough for a variety of reasons. So we should be thankful for our blessings and be ready to help others who are not doing as well.

     Though Thanksgiving as a holiday is not part of the New Testament pattern thanksgiving as a spiritual principle and attitude is certainly found in the biblical text. Christians have a great deal for which we ought to be thankful. When we examine God’s Word on the subject of being thankful we find that it is a very serious matter indeed.

     This seriousness is established in Romans 1. After introducing his letter and laying the foundation for his inspired expression of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:14-17) he described the sinful state of all people beginning in 1:18 and continuing through 3:23 (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”). Note carefully what he wrote in Romans 1:21 about the spiritual condition of those who reject the implications of the idea of God in face of the evidence in creation that He is: “because they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

     This passage takes us back to the period of the patriarchs. From the time of creation forward mankind has had the opportunity to be assured of the reality of the existence of God. The patriarchs were to lead their people in God’s ways. Often they did not do what they were supposed to do as is evidenced by God’s corrective measure of Genesis 6. People before and after the flood did not glorify God as they should.

     Not only that, these people were not thankful. As a direct consequence of being unthankful their minds became corrupt. They stopped thinking correctly. Futile thoughts are vain thoughts. Human beings are made by God with minds that can approach and understand the revelation of the mind of God (which is the Bible). But if we refuse to glorify Him, that is to give him honor and praise for being Who He is and if we are not thankful to Him for Who He is and what He has done our minds suffer spiritual rot. Being thankful is serious business.

     Think also about Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” We know this lesson from Paul and its implications for us. Instead of worrying ourselves silly about things often beyond our control we ought to ask for God’s help and trust Him in faith. Note however the built-in antidote to worry in this passage: “thanksgiving.” We all have a lot to deal with day by day and some things do make us anxious. But wouldn’t we be less anxious if we were more thankful? As Paul said later, think on good things (Philippians 4:8).

     Thanksgiving is great, but as I read on a billboard somewhere, it is more than a day. It is an attitude. And the Bible teaches that it is a mighty serious and good attitude to have.