by Kevin Burton
This may be hard to believe, but once in a great while I can be a little grumpy.
I know, I know, but it’s true. You can take my word for it, or ask my wife.
But I always see the bright side, 100 percent of the time. In fact, I use the bright side as a backdrop for the stormy picture that I paint, to represent current events.
This is so much the case that I sometimes go fake grumpy, just to get a rise out of Jeannette.
For example, waiting at the drive-through pharmacy it’s “We’ve been in this line about 45 minutes….”
“Oh we have not….”
And so then I have initiated a delightful conversation to help us bond, while we pass the time in line with the other old people.
If I were Snow White’s eighth dwarf, I’d be called “gripey.”
But the truth is I am a grateful soul, a thankful soul. Not thankful enough but getting there.
How could I possibly not be thankful for the undeserved salvation I have through God’s grace and faith in Jesus Christ?
And even on a strictly earthly plain, if you’re a middle-class American as I am, if you’re not thankful, you’re not paying attention to the world at large.
So here we are on the eve of Thanksgiving. That’s a holiday in the United States. Ostensibly it is a day to give thanks for the people and things we have in our lives.
The day is misshapen now, having been twisted by marketers. Originally Americans gave thanks to God. I guess some still do.
But here’s a concept no one can twist into just another product. How about this year, we engage in a little thanksliving?
My spell check doesn’t like the term, but don’t you worry. I have overcome spell check with a mighty hand even though of course, I am thankful for spell check.
Sometimes I thank God for something and I can hear Him say, “Thank Me with your life Kevin, thank Me with your life.”
That would be thanksliving.
“Thanksliving it’s not the way we celebrate, it’s the life we live,” is the way one church put it.
So what would thanksliving look like? That’s sort of hard to quantify, but it would produce more than leftover turkey, that’s for sure.
Psalm 118 begins and ends with thanksgiving to God.
In between are such things as rejoicing (v 15, 24), declaring God’s works (17) and praising God (19, 28).
The declaring part helps us ease into the concept of thanksliving. Merriam Webster has several definition for declare, including the first “to make known formally, officially or explicitly,” and fourth “to state emphatically.”
The third definition “to make evident” is the most helpful here.
What if my thankfulness were evident to anyone around who is watching some aspect of my life?
“A thankful heart is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a believer,” said John McArthur, speaker on the grace to you radio ministry. “No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.”
“Jesus is the foundation of a life of thanksgiving. Our gratitude is rooted in Him, including all we have and who we are because of His sacrificial work in us,” writes Dawn Wilson on crossewalk.com. “Our foundation must be in the Lord, seeking Him and His righteousness first.”
“Our habit of gratitude forms the framework for thanksliving,” Wilson writes. “Authentic gratitude builds on the foundation of Christ. We receive all things from His hand.”
“We must learn from the Israelites whose gratitude was wavering and conditional, thankful when God delivered them, but murmuring when He didn’t,” Wilson writes.
“Grace rather teaches us to actively pursue and practice gratitude. We count our past and present blessings and are receptive to what God is doing in and through our lives in the present.”
“We are grateful not only for what we have and can do, but also for so many things that did not touch our lives in a negative way, burdens, hurts and troubles,” Wilson writes, quoting Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
“The habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy and zeal,” said theologian J.I. Packer.
It’s that joy and zeal that will show in your life and mine when we commit to thanksliving.