There are just 10 shopping days left until Thanksgiving! If that sounds strange, perhaps it’s because everywhere you look retailers have moved on from Halloween to Christmas. I don’t blame them--their job is to sell product, and retailers promote Christmas in November because they understand it's hard to sell stuff to people filled with thankfulness and contentment.
I promise this isn’t the standard “isn’t it a shame Christmas starts so early” rant. It’s not a rant at all, it’s the non-standard “do we understand the importance of giving thanks” meditation.
There are more than a hundred scriptural references to giving thanks. Consider just two Old Testament verses:
- Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100: 4)
- Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever (Psalm 107:1)
These verses are more than poetry. There reveal the crucial importance of the spiritual discipline of giving thanks. Yes--giving thanks is a spiritual discipline, a practice, a habit, developed by those growing in God’s grace.
We enter the gates of God’s courtyard by giving thanks. The image is drawn from the Temple in Jerusalem: a massive structure whose courtyard was open to nearly everyone. The Psalmist instructs us, though, that the only way in was through thanksgiving. Not the mere attitude of gratitude, but the active giving of thanks: outward, vocal, and communal.
The Psalmist also teaches us that the proper response to God’s goodness is giving thanks. If we can catch the smallest glimpse of his goodness, it will generate thanks. Conversely, if we are not in the habit of giving thanks, perhaps it’s because we have not seen his goodness. And since his love endures forever, our thanks should be unending, and always new.
Thanksgiving is where Students of Jesus begin. The measure of our spirituality is not how much scripture we can recite. It’s not whether we can heal the sick. Nor is it prophetic insight worthy of Jeremiah. It is, simply, to see God’s goodness and respond in the appropriate way: with thanksgiving.
Finally, the good news gets better. In the U.S. we have a holiday devoted to the giving of thanks. Why wait until the fourth Thursday of November? Our Thanksgiving diet can begin today, by meditating on his goodness and giving thanks.