And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a day set apart by the
national government so that American might express their thanks. The
roots of this holiday grow deep into American soil, touching the very
beginnings of the country. The value of setting apart a day for giving
thanks has been affirmed by many presidents, beginning with George
Washington. (Photo: Thanksgiving postcard from c. 1900)
I think it’s a fine thing that the United States (among other
countries) sets apart a specific day for gratitude, even if this day is
often more devoted to football and feasting than to actually giving
thanks to God. But sometimes I think we American do ourselves a
disservice by identifying one day a year for gratitude. The danger, as I
see it, is that we might not live thankfully all year round.
Scripture calls us to a life of gratitude, not just a day.
Colossians 3:17, for example, urges: “And whatever you do or say, do it
as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God
the Father.” Everything we do and say should have two basic
characteristics. First, it should be done “as a representative of the
Lord Jesus.” The original Greek reads more literally, “in the name of
the Lord Jesus.” This does mean “as his representative,” but it also
suggests that we are to seek his agenda and to be committed to his
Second, we are to do and say everything “giving thanks” to God the
Father through Jesus. This doesn’t mean that we are to stop every action
and every conversation in order to offer a literal prayer of thanks to
God. Rather, we are to act and speak thankfully. We are to live each
moment with an awareness of God’s grace at work in our lives and in the
world. Sometimes we will express our gratitude to God or to others. But
even when we’re silent, we are to receive all of life and do all that we
do with an awareness that we are living by grace.
Living thankfully gives God the credit he deserves, and that’s
sufficient reason to do it. But living thankfully also transforms us. It
gives us a deeper appreciation of life. It steers us away from focusing
too much on our struggles. It enables us to see God’s presence even in
hard times. It motivates us to live each moment of each day for God and
his glory. Pervasive thanksgiving enables us, therefore, to “glorify God
and enjoy him forever.”
So, be thankful today, for sure. But be thankful tomorrow as well. And the next day. And the next. . . .
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What helps you to
live thankfully each day? What gets in the way of your gratitude? What
might you do differently to help you act and speak with thankfulness?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, as I pay attention to the
encouragement to do everything in your name, giving thanks to you, I
realize how easily I fall short of this goal. I can so easily take your
gifts for granted. Or I can focus on what is wrong, filling my heart
with worry rather than thanksgiving. Forgive me, Lord, for my ungrateful
heart and my thankless living.
Help me, I pray, to be thankful to you in all that I do and say. May
thanksgiving become a true habit of mind, heart, and action. May I
learn to acknowledge you with expressed thanks, both to you and in the
presence of others. May I see your gifts and delight in them.
Thank you, gracious God, for the opportunity to live thankfully.
Thank you for your Word that instructs and challenges me to do it. Thank
you for your grace and for your Spirit who help me to live with
gratitude each day.
All praise and thanks be to you, gracious, loving, giving God. Amen.
Here’s how . . . .
This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.