Thanksgiving is less than a week away. That means everyone’s looking forward to camping out in front of Best Buy and shopping for Christmas! No wait, wait. That’s not right! Thanksgiving is like the middle child of year-end holidays. People look forward to Halloween and can’t wait for Christmas, but Thanksgiving is just there. Pass by it quickly and move on to a greater holiday. But in a cynical, critical world, thanksgiving as an attitude is all the more necessary to soften our hearts. So in lieu of a day devoted to that most overlooked of attitudes, here’s an edited re-post of a Thanksgiving piece I wrote a couple years ago…Enjoy! And be thankful.
* * * *
Psalm 50. The Psalm revolves around the thought of God being great and mighty and demanding something higher than mere animal sacrifices to please Him. The solution He gives is that we offer a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” (v. 14, 23). The phrase struck me. How can thanksgiving be a “sacrifice?”
Another version, the NIV, translates it as a “thank offering sacrifice,” which would mean that it’s within the Jewish sacrificial system. I’m not completely ruling that out, but since God just said that He really had no need of their sacrifices (v. 9), I feel like something deeper and loftier is implied. But that doesn’t answer the question.
When I think of a “sacrifice”, I think of losing something of my own (time, money, etc.) for someone else’s good or for a greater cause. And when I think of thanksgiving, I think of being grateful and acknowledging what I’m thankful for. But how is that a sacrifice? I’m not giving up anything, except maybe some breath and a little bit of time. Sometimes sacrifices can be painful, but I see nothing painful in giving thanks. So what does it mean?
Connected with the “sacrifice of thanksgiving” in both instances is salvation. So it seems that salvation should be the spring-board for gratitude. In the context of the Psalm, it seems like God is chiding Israel for going through the motions of ritual sacrifice with a callous, ungrateful heart. Thus He calls for a “sacrifice” of thanksgiving instead of the regular physical ones. So it seems, as my wife noted, that the sacrifice comes from living life intentionally thankful. This fits with the Psalm since God’s call/point seems to be that salvation gives us all the reason to be thankful and that should affect our everyday living.
Thus everyday we should recall the salvation won for us through Christ’s death and resurrection and offer a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” by living out of grateful hearts. Thankfulness has to have direction; it will be pointed at someone else or an institution or God. While there’s nothing wrong with being thankful for a great country to live in or a home or anything like that, we should render due sacrifice to God for the salvation He has granted us by the sacrifice of Christ and the covenant He allows us to enter in to. So on this day of thanks, let us not be thankful just for one day but continually offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the rest of our lives.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.