Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. When I was young, I even preferred it over Christmas, which may seem odd. I always enjoyed the gathering of friends and family and the activities surrounding the day. I also looked forward to eating enough turkey, stuffing and anything else to the point that I couldn’t even speak. But when it was over, things got back to normal and it was on to Christmas with all the anticipated presents. After all, I was a practical kid.
Thanksgiving is a time of enjoying family and eating lots of food, but it is also a time for reflection on the things in our lives for which we can be truly thankful. The Psalmist tells us to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4). Paul also reminds us to give thanks in everything, as this is God’s will for us in Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:18). However, sometimes this seems to be hard to keep in mind. We can get distracted by many things in our lives that might serve to inhibit our giving thanks.
In the United States of America, we enjoy the very best of just about everything. Typically, we don’t have to worry about food or shelter since even those in need of either of these necessities can get access to many charities available in most communities. But for the rest of us, we have available just about everything a person could imagine. So why, if we have access to all the world offers, would we not be most thankful?
The Apostle John warns us of looking toward the world for satisfaction. 1 John 2:16 tells us that the lust of the eye is from the world and not from the Father. Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the desire to have what we see when we see it, craving riches and other physical things. In this country, we have lots of things to distract us and much to encourage us to pursue it. So, what’s the problem?
Jesus warns us about this distraction when He tells us we cannot serve two masters, God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). Trying to do this, warns Jesus, will lead to hating one and loving the other. He reminds us that the Father knows our needs so there is no reason to worry. The danger is falling into worshipping money, since money is something in which we commonly put our trust, at least temporarily.
Of all the circumstance that could block our giving thanks, it would be living in a state of continual desire. John reminds us that our eyes can draw us into idolatry, whether money or things. His final instruction tells us to guard ourselves against idols (1 John 5:21). The solution, John says, is to do the will of God (1 John 2:17), love one another (1 John 4:7), and pray according to God’s will (11 John 5:14). As we polish off the last of the turkey, let’s use this season to remember what we have to be thankful for and why.
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