Monday, November 22, 2010

A Thankful Heart Gives

Thanksgiving is a compound word that at this time of the year really needs to be considered carefully and perhaps re-evaluated altogether.  It consists of the word thanks and the word giving; its meaning is deeper than what than these two words simply joined together implies. Many understand it to mean that we offer thanks for what we have received. This is certainly part of its meaning. To give requires action – we can also show our thanks by giving.

Scripture tell us:
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Lk 21:1-4)

In this passage from Luke’s Gospel, it is not what the woman received from her offering that was noteworthy, it is what she gave. Not only does she give spiritually through her worship, but she gives materially from her poverty; she makes a sacrifice. The woman by offering everything that she has, her “whole livelihood,” gives thanks. Similarly, at the first Thanksgiving in 1621, the Pilgrims offered a meal that was sacrificial; it came from their poverty. Although they didn’t have much, they still made a feast to honor God’s bounty and their gratitude for His hand in their survival. They gave to one another, to their neighbors and back to God from their first and meager fruits. The widow’s was a thanksgiving of body and soul, an example from which the pilgrims might have fashioned their feast.

I have so much to be thankful for, so much that the Lord has offered me in my life. I have a husband and six children, a home, cars, food on the table– I have every reason to be grateful, and I am. If the Lord continues to shower me with good things, I will praise Him and know that I am truly blessed. But, it is not good enough to simply receive and be thankful with a grateful heart; I must also give with grateful heart. As you celebrate this Thanksgiving in our families, prayerfully consider not only what you have received, but what it means to give with gratitude; “for God loves a cheerful giver,” especially when giving thanks by serving others. (Cf. 2 Cor 9:7)

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