Giving Thanks in a Thankless World

I was talking with a coworker about “my” football team. The topic was a specific player who was holding out for more pay. The deadline was on a Wednesday for him to return to the team. Wednesday came and went, and there was no appearance. I don’t know the specifics of the deal, but it lead my coworker and me in a discussion of being thankful in a world that doesn’t seem to be truly thankful. And it gets harder and harder to be able to give thanks in a thankless world, especially when the people that many look to as examples don’t show it.

It comes down to perspective. How many of us have heard these words come out of our parent’s mouth, “There are starving children in Africa that would love to eat that [insert disgusting meal item here]”? We all have our standard of living that we deem is ok. For a guy making more in one game than I do in… well, a lot longer time period, his standard apparently needed to be a little bit more. Or he felt he deserved it based on his ability. Again, I don’t know about his specific reasons. However, in today’s world, these reasons are true in many people’s lives.

This same co-worker was telling me about a random guy they met at a train station who, during their discussion, stated that the governor of Colorado makes $90k a year. And one of his statements to go a long with that was, “Nobody can live on that amount.” The average household income in Colorado is $84,384 per year with the median income at $65,685 per year. (Which basically means there are many more households making less and just a few making way way more). It comes down to perspective. But is our (as the world) perspective correct? What is it that makes a millionaire want more money so much that he won’t play a sport he is supposed to love. What causes someone to think that an individual making almost 40% more than the half of the households in the state can’t make it? We are getting more and more things, but are giving less and less thanks. Our focus has become the getting and not the giving. 

If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. – Leviticus 7:12 (ESV) 

This time of year is full of talk about giving thanks. And although I am sure there are many people who are truly thankful for a variety of things in their life, what does the whole picture of their life look like? What does the whole picture of your life, or my life look like in the midst of us saying what we are thankful for?

When you are truly thankful from the heart, you are moving towards being Christlike. You are moving towards your sanctification. None of us are totally pure in anything we do. We are sinners in a fallen world. It is only Jesus that can cleanse us and who will make us white as snow. Until then, we can make sure we are moving in the right direction. 

You are either moving towards being Christlike or you are moving away. There is no pause button. There is no freeze-frame. There is no, “Game-off” to wait for a car to pass. There are many things we do that move us away from being Christlike. Being thankful with a selfish heart is one. 

Wait! What? How can you be thankful with a selfish heart?

I bet if you think about it, you will understand. Think about the pharisee who proclaimed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11) His giving thanks was not from the heart, but rather from his flesh. In his pride, he compared himself to those he thought less than himself. 

Being thankful has to include within it, at a minimum, a sense of being content with what you are thankful for and at most a feeling of unworthy of being blessed by whatever it is we are giving thanks. If you think you need more that what you got, you can’t fully be thankful. Your thanks is lacking in that your desire is greater. 

Our thanksgiving has to be purely being thankful. If you offer anything of thanks, it can not be mixed with anything else. You can’t have pride in there like you are above it. You can’t have selfish desire of wanting more than what you got. You can’t be fake in your offering of thanks. 

Practicing being fully thankful will lead you to become more Christlike. You will have to examine your motive for saying thank you. You will have to make sure there is nothing else mixed in with it. You will have to seek out and destroy any hidden agendas. You will also then seek out ways to show true thanksgiving to others. Your, “Thank you” will be more genuine and people will notice. You will see the blessings in everyday, blessings that we tend to overlook because of a lack of being thankful. I love living in
Colorado because I get to see the mountains everyday. But I wonder how many people driving around don’t even see the mountains anymore because they are always there. Don’t take these daily blessings as granted.

Think about it the next time you tell someone, “thank you.” From someone holding the door open for you to you receiving something you don’t deserve. Is your thanksgiving completely whole and pure? 

Finally, are you thankful for what Christ did on the cross? If so, why? Are you thankful that He died for your sins so that you can sin all the more. (Selfish thanks). Are you just content in that He died to cleanse you of your sins so you are better than those who aren’t saved? (Prideful thanks) Or do you see yourself as not worthy of the gift that Christ freely offers each one of us? (Humble thanks). 

 

Author: Rob Crenshaw

Someone who is doing his best to live purely for Jesus, be the best husband to his wife, best father to his children and then go from there...

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