3 Tips for a More Biblical


3 Tips for a More Biblical Thanksgiving
Looking backwards with thanksgiving helps us look towards the future with anticipation.

No U.S. holiday is as distinctive as Thanksgiving.

In our busy, deadline-fixated age, expressing gratitude to our heavenly Father is too easily squeezed out of our lives, but it is important.

First, I think human beings are ‘hardwired’ to do this. Even atheists seem to have unsettling moments when they feel an irresistible urge to thank someone ‘up there.’ One of the problems with atheism occurs when pain is avoided or pleasure gained – having no one to give thanks to leaves you with an itch you cannot scratch.

But there is more than a primeval urge to justify thanking God. On almost every page of the Bible, we see this as a theme. The Old Testament reverberates with the sound of people praising God; Israel’s history is full of thanksgiving to God for showing them mercy and delivering them from disaster.

The New Testament is no less full of thanksgiving. Jesus himself offers up thanks to God the Father, most importantly at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-27), where the word used for thanksgiving is Eucharist, still used in many churches for communion. Paul not only regularly gives thanks; he actually commands it of others.

This gives us some guidelines for ‘biblical’ thanksgiving:

First, biblical thanksgiving is innocent.

In giving thanks to God, there should be no motive other than pure gratitude. Thanksgiving is giving thanks and that alone. Of all the different types of prayer, this is least likely to be contaminated by our own conscious or subconscious desire to manipulate God.

Second, biblical thanksgiving is intelligent.

It involves looking back over the past – whether the last week or an entire life – and identifying things for which we are grateful. Thanksgiving is neglected today partly because modern Western culture is so obsessed with the future. But to give thanks to God is to look backwards, not forwards, and to express gratitude for the good things that have come our way.

Third, thanksgiving should be inclusive.

It’s easy just to say, ‘Thank you, God’ for the health and wealth we have. But do we also give God thanks for friends, family, housing, holidays, or a hundred other lesser things? Let’s give him thanks for all the little things in life, too.

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