Thankful to Whom?

A Devotional Reading for Thanksgiving Day

by Stephen Rhoda


Scripture Reading:  Psalm 116;  James 1:16-18

As we celebrate another Thanksgiving Day, I am reminded again of how popular this holiday can be and yet how empty of true Christian meaning.  In particular I am thinking of the practice of giving thanks without ever naming who is being thanked.  You can hear this all the time on television shows and throughout our culture in general.  The scene might show a group of people sitting around and sharing their thoughts of thankfulness.  One after another they say, “I am thankful for…” as they name something or someone significant and meaningful in their life.  With a falling tear, one says, “I am thankful for my family.”  Another with breaking voice says, “I am thankful for my friends.”  To add a little humor, a third person says, “I am thankful for indoor plumbing.”  And so, having had our emotions stirred in several different directions, we can easily come away feeling “touched” and thinking that this is really what Thanksgiving is all about.  Swept along by the emotion, we might never realize that nobody really gives thanks in such scenes, and we might never notice that God is never mentioned.  At best, it’s just a matter of generic spirituality.  At worst, it’s a matter of godless sentimentalism.

We might expect little more from our culture these days, but let us refuse to make the same error in our own giving of thanks.  As we sit around tables laden with food, as we gather in warm houses with comfortable clothes, as we enjoy the company of family and friends, let us say without fail, “I am thankful to God for all His blessings to me.”  What is the point if we are just “thankful”?  How is God honored if we simply acknowledge that certain things and people in our lives are valuable and important to us?  Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks to God.  That ought to be a terribly obvious statement for mature believers in Jesus Christ, but sometimes we need the obvious put to us again in no uncertain terms.  So let me say it again- Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks to God!

On this day and in every day, let us confess and declare that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” that is, from our Creator God (James 1:17).  To do otherwise is to a matter of deception (vs. 16).  And  among God’s many blessings to His people is His sovereign working for our salvation in and through Jesus Christ.  “Of his own will, he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”  There is nothing we have that does not come entirely from God: our lives, our bodies, our homes, our possessions, our families, our jobs, our strength and skill to work, but above all, the new birth and changed heart that brought us to saving faith in Jesus Christ!  How can we fail to give thanks for the riches of His grace?  And how can we fail to name the name of God and of Christ in our thanksgiving.