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What Should Thanksgiving Really Mean?

Throughout the Bible, we see thanksgiving for blessings as a theme. The Old Testament resounds with the people praising God; Israel had a history of giving thanks to God for the mercy and deliverance he showed them. In the New Testament we read, Jesus "Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke them" (Luke 9:16).  At the Last Supper Jesus took bread and gave thanks, and offered it to His followers (1 Corinthians 11:24).  

Thanksgiving means GIVING TO GOD. Paul stated to the Corinthians that remembering what Jesus gave for our sakes should make us want to give generously and cheerfully to God in return. (2 Corinthians 9:6-9). The point is that thanksgiving to God should be rendered with our hearts, with our talents, with our time, and yes, even with our pocketbooks.

Thanksgiving means GIVING TO THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN TO US. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who raised us. Certainly we should honor them (Ephesians 6:2). Unfortunately, in our fast-paced society, many children seem unable (or unwilling) to give their parents the time they should (this is true no matter how old you or your parents are). Are we truly thankful for our parents? Then let’s demonstrate our gratitude by giving them the most valuable gift of all–ourselves. And not only our parents, but truly give back to any and all who have selflessly touched our lives (i.e. fellow Christians, teachers, friends, etc.).

Thanksgiving means GIVING TO THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED. Real gratitude shares. Those who have been richly blessed by God must, in turn, be a blessing to others. It’s too easy for us to look at world hunger, hardship, and the needs of so many others and excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, I can’t help everyone.” True, you can’t help everyone, but you can help someone (Galatians 6:10)! It is not enough to count our blessings, we must also share them with others.

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