Happy Thanksgiving! I am so glad I decided to write this devotional because I’ve been down a couple of days with vertigo and was kind of feeling sorry for myself. Karen and I will be going over to friends later today to celebrate Thanksgiving with them, but I woke up not preparing a turkey as is our tradition in the past. At first it really didn’t feel like Thanksgiving morning. But alas, it is!
Thanksgiving is not a day as much as it is a state of mind. While the fourth Thursday of November is a declared American holiday, thanksgiving should be a part of my Christian character.
“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30)
It is our duty as Christians to praise God and “magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Even President George Washington, in his original Thanksgiving Day proclamation, reminded Americans of our duty to be thankful to God:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Sometimes duty is not joyful; I must make it so and never more so than when it comes to being thankful. Duty can of course be a joy in and of itself, but I must never think of it as anything less than my Christian duty. As I said, it must be a part of my character. The great philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas went even further than calling it a duty; he called it a special virtue:
It would seem that the ingratitude, whereby a subsequent sin causes the return of sins previously forgiven, is a special sin. For, the giving of thanks belongs to counter passion, which is a necessary condition of justice. But justice is a special virtue. Therefore this ingratitude is a special sin. Thanksgiving is a special virtue. But ingratitude is opposed to thanksgiving. Therefore ingratitude is a special sin.
Wow, not only is thanksgiving a special virtue, but also ingratitude is a special sin and not the kind for which you want credit. We always love singing, “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord,” but do we understand that it is the sacrifice God expects of us?
“Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (Psalm 107:22)
My thanksgiving is something I must bring to God, and I cannot throw up to heaven in a quick prayer on my way to work or hasty blessing over the Thanksgiving meal. It is expected to be brought to the altar of God:
“I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:17)
Beloved, Thanksgiving is not a uniquely American holiday; it was established by God as part of the law of peace offerings:
“This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer to the Lord: If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil. Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering. And from it he shall offer one cake from each offering as a heave offering to the Lord. It shall belong to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the peace offering.” (Leviticus 7:11-14)
Thanksgiving is by far the greatest American holiday, in my humble opinion. It is a wonderful day of family and fellowship, and even football! And as we enjoy each of these let us take a moment to offer the true sacrifice of praise to Almighty God and let us first and foremost be thankful for His Son Jesus Christ for His work on the cross. Everything else I have pales in the light of my salvation.
That alone is enough for which to spend the day thankful!
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers