Most of us will soon be celebrating the annual Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends and a feast. Some will have hard conversations with family. Some will have easy conversations with friends. Some will enjoy the food. Some will not. And there will be football.
This national event is the second entry listed under Thanksgiving in the New Oxford American Dictionary. An “expression of gratitude, especially to God,” is the first.
Of all the things that are out of order in the world these days, Thanksgiving is not one of them.
Thanksgiving, in the sense of gratitude to God, saturates the Scriptures. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes early and often about it in most of his letters. Here are some examples:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. (Romans 1:8)
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus... (1 Corinthians 1:4)
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession… (2 Corinthians 2:14)
…because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you… (Ephesians 1:15-16)
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel… (Philippians 1:3-5)
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints… (Colossians 1:3-4)
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
Faith, grace, love, gospel partnership, steadfast hope, abundant growth. These, visible in other believers (your faith; your partnership; your love; and so on), are what Paul is quick to thank God for.
This Thanksgiving may faith in the Lord Jesus—our faith and that of others—inspire our conversations. Like Paul, let us be thankful early and often for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Yet what about those who don’t share our faith in the Lord Jesus? Quoting the Old Testament, Paul says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15)
As we celebrate the New Oxford American Dictionary’s second entry, may we soon remember the first: an expression of gratitude, especially to God. May we be filled this Thanksgiving with thankfulness to God the Father for faith that saves, for gospel hope, and for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And may we all have beautiful feet.
Matt Smith and his wife, Jaynie (Explorers I aide) have been married for twelve years and have a daughter, Lydia, currently in Class Three.
They have mostly lived in Wheaton since late 2015 and enjoy serving with their local church by leading weekly college Bible studies in their home.