"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:17 ESV
We're entering the holiday season, and with it a heightened focus on gratitude. Schools encourage students to list items for which they are thankful. Churches sing hymns about counting our blessings. Friends and families gather to celebrate the first Thanksgiving. It's a beautiful time of year.
But what if you've never accepted Jesus into your heart and made Him your Lord?
That's a question I've considered before but not to much extent. At least, not until I heard a recent radio broadcast.
In the broadcast, the two hosts were discussing a home organization trend from a couple years ago where people, once they decided to get rid of an object, were encouraged to thank said object for what it did for them. The hosts' example was a sock; if a person wants to get rid of a pair of socks, before they do, they should thank the sock.
Yes, this method actually encouraged people to thank an inanimate object. Silly, yes, but that's the point. People who feel compelled to thank an object like a sock do so because they don't believe in the One who provided it. They might be thankful for the person who made it and maybe even for their employer for giving them the money to purchase it, but the gratitude ends there.
When this method first came out, it took off. People swarmed to the store to buy the book and treated the woman behind it all as if she'd cured cancer. So there was our world, organizing their homes, ridding themselves of things they didn't use and thanking each item as if it was alive.
These are the people we are trying to reach with the Gospel.
As you know, many young adults either have never heard the Gospel or have chosen not to believe in it. And if that's the case, what is it like for them to feel thankful? How do they express it? Is it satisfying? Surely not.
How do we teach these people about true gratitude when this has been their experience so far—thanking items like socks for keeping their feet warm?
Well, one thing we can do is follow Jesus' example, by being an example ourselves. Through our interactions with others (believers and nonbelievers alike) and with this world. As we express our thankfulness, we point people to the One behind it all. We don't chalk it up to fate or chance, but we explicitly say it's only by the grace, power and awesomeness of God.
Like Jesus, we show those around us that thanksgiving means something entirely different when you're a child of God. It's deeper. It's richer. It's eternal. As God's people, we're not thankful because the calendar tells us to be but because we have a good, good Father, and that will never change. How will you model that thankfulness to an unbelieving world?
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.
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