Tony Evans tells the story of two little sisters who were misbehaving badly on Thanksgiving Day. The situation finally reached a point where their father said, “Girls, go to your room. You are not going to be allowed to sit at the table for Thanksgiving dinner.” The girls complied, and spent the new few minutes sitting dejected in their room.
Then, quite unexpectedly, they heard their mother call them to the table for the Thanksgiving meal. They didn’t understand how mommy could overrule daddy, but their lack of understanding didn’t stop them from cautiously making their way from their bedroom to the dining room. When they got there they immediately noticed that someone was missing from the scene. Daddy wasn’t there.
Now the girls were really confused and asked their mother, “Where’s daddy?” She answered, “Daddy went to his room. He did that because he loves you so much that he wanted you to be able to have Thanksgiving dinner. Since he couldn’t change his standard about the punishment that you deserved, he decided that he himself would pay the penalty that you owed. So, while you enjoy this meal, remember that your daddy has paid your penalty so that you could have it.”
The application of the story isn’t hard to spot, is it? It certainly shouldn’t be if you are a Christian. As Tony Evans puts it, “Bothers and sisters, when you forget to say thanks for everything else, don’t forget to say thanks for Jesus.”
The apostle Paul gets into this same subject area when he writes in Colossians 2:6-7:
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)
Later on in that same book (letter/epistle), as if he can’t stay away from the subject, Paul hits on this idea again in Colossians 3:15-17 when he writes:
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)
Can you see how in Paul’s mind thankfulness and Jesus became seamlessly woven together? In one way of looking at things, Paul couldn’t imagine not being thankful in light of what Jesus had done for him. But in another way of looking at things, he also understood that everything he did, even him giving thanks, was done through Jesus and in the name of Jesus. In other words, Paul would tell us Christians that Jesus is not only the motivation for our thanksgiving but also the means through which we give it.
This Thanksgiving, in the midst of all our talk about being thankful for family, friends, health, money, food, clothing, and other material blessings, let us be sure to say, “Thank You” to Jesus. Christian, your family and friends didn’t die on the cross in payment for your sins. No, Jesus did that. Going back to the Tony Evans illustration, He took your punishment so that you might enjoy the meal.
And, of course, as Paul reminds us in those passages from Colossians, Jesus paying that ultimate price for us demands that we devote our lives to Him in appreciation. As Paul says of Him, we should walk in Him, be rooted in Him, be built up in Him, be established in our faith in Him, abound in our faith in Him with thanksgiving, let His word dwell richly within us, sing in our hearts to Him, do everything that we do in His name, and give thanks to God the Father through Him. Obviously, if all that sounds like complete and total commitment, you are reading it correctly. This then is how the Christian should live each Thanksgiving Day, and this then is how the Christian should live all the other days of the year.