It hardly seems possible that we are already in November, and we are facing Thanksgiving once again. Didn't it just happen last month? Has it really been a full year? I am sure you have heard statements such as that, or even been making them as the days race by.
And each of us has had many opportunities to express our thanks for the many things we are blessed with in this country. Or, perhaps, we have been able to help those who have so little. I know there are many who do appreciate what they have, and I know also that there are many people in the lakes area who work hard at helping those who have such great need. I believe that our background has given us receptivity to hearing, seeing, and doing something about those needs as we hear about them. As a pastor in the area, I want to say thanks to each of you who have reached into your pockets and pantries to help. I believe we have wonderful opportunities in this country that peoples of other lands can only dream of-they may never see its reality.
There is a thanks, however, that we may be guilty of never having given. In the Bible, we find some words on the subject of thanks to help point us on the way. It says: "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (II Corinthians 9:15 NIV) As I look at that verse and the others around it, I do not see it talking about giving thanks for all the help that is given to the needy, or for all the good things that we have in our lives. I do not see that it expresses thanks for the freedoms that we have in this great country of ours. If that is so, then what thanks is it talking about, and what thanks should we be giving? What is that indescribable gift?
Let me address the gift first. This indescribable gift, if you really dig out the meaning in this passage, can only point to what we have in Jesus Christ. You might get confused and begin to reason that the word gift looks back to "grace" in an earlier verse. But, don't be confused - grace comes from God, and we know it and experience it through Jesus Christ. So, let's think for a moment of what we have in Christ: Certainly He is a gift to us - we did not deserve a Savior, nor did He come as a result of our demands. We could not force God to provide salvation for us. He provided that salvation because of his love for us - "while we were yet sinners," according to the Bible! Language cannot really express this fully. And yet, because God loves us, and has given this wonderful, indescribable gift of Jesus to us, we are to give thanks.
But the question remains: How do we give thanks to God for this wonderful gift? One way is to express a prayer of thanks to God for the gift of His Son, Jesus, who takes away the sin of the world. Have we ever done that, or do we relegate praying to someone else? Today would be a great time for us to acknowledge the gift of Jesus that God has given us. Secondly, we can show our thanks to God by being obedient to his Word. In verse 13 of Second Corinthians, we read that "men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ" "your confession" means that we are to tell someone about what Christ means to us. We may be the means that they too will have a reason to give thanks to God.
A third way to give thanks is to help someone in need, which may be something we are already doing. In Second Corinthians 9, we read at some length of the way the early church reached out and gave and gave to those who were in need. The word generosity is used several times, and even the expression of "generous gift" is found in this chapter. The obedience of giving by the early believers, proved that their faith was the real thing
It is quite likely that we will all use the term "thanksgiving" more than a few times in the next week or so. It may be that we will eat too much good food, and perhaps we will be blessed enough to share time with family and friends. But, wouldn't it be good if there were some individuals who were able to praise and give thanks to God because you or I had come to them in the name of Jesus, and lived God's love before them, giving generous gifts of love to them, so that they in turn, would have occasion to express their thanks to God? We could be responsible to bring real and lasting change into their lives.
Is that kind of obedience found in us? Are our lives truly an expression of God's "indescribable gift" to those who have not had the same opportunities to hear and know Christ as Savior as we have? If you are wondering how we can receive this great gift, we first of all must admit that we are sinners, and acknowledge that there is no other way to earn God's approval except by believing in Jesus. We also need to believe that Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins when He died on the Cross. When we believe that His death paid for our sins, we trust or accept Him as our Savior which is to accept His wonderful gift of salvation. Not stopping there, we will want to draw closer to Him as we study His Word, pray, and fellowship with other believers.
Now, at this point, we will truly be able to give from a generous heart, giving because we have realized the "indescribable gift" that God first gave us in Christ. I believe this is how we really give thanks. Are you up to the task?
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.