A Scripture that should be foremost on a believer’s mind as Thanksgiving approaches is Psalm 118:1. The Psalmist exclaims,
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
As someone has said though, “Thanksgiving was never meant to be wrapped up in a single day.” Instead we ought to live in what is called “an attitude of gratitude.” May I suggest that this Thanksgiving though we add one more word to that phrase – “An attitude of Gospel gratitude.”
We should certainly have this attitude in the midst of the pandemic. The reason is that Covid-19 has reminded us in a very vivid and forceful way that there is nothing more important than where a person is going to spend their eternity. The most critical thing a person can understand is God’s simple plan of salvation. We come to God as a sinner, recognize Christ died for us on a cross and rose again, and trust in Christ alone to save us.
As we meditate on Psalm 118:1, we recognize that God’s greatness and mercy is most evident on the cross. Mercy means that God holds back what we deserve. Instead of punishing us for our sins, God allowed His Son to take our punishment as our substitute. This good news of the gospel can be summed up in 10 words: “Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.” Because of this always-true good news, we need an “attitude of gospel gratitude”.
Let me suggest five practical ways that an “attitude of gospel gratitude” might be expressed this Thanksgiving.
- Review and remind yourself of the people and circumstances that God used to bring you to Christ. Although you did not see it at the time, God was working one day, one person, one circumstance at a time to cause you to come to Him. You were not seeking Him, He was seeking you. John 6:44 tells us clearly, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him… “ Praise God by telling Him, “If you would have only given me salvation, you would have given me the only thing that really matters.” Gospel gratitude!
- Ask God for an opportunity to explain to one, two, or more people this Thanksgiving season THE person you are most thankful for and why. It could be a family member, neighbor, or friend that you have been praying for several years. What a bridge that could be to introducing someone to Christ and possibly causing them to have the best Thanksgiving they have ever had. Gospel gratitude!
- Write a letter or email to five people who have given you good service throughout the year. It could be grocery store personnel, someone who assisted you with a remodeling project at your hose, a postal carrier, mechanic, doctor or dentist. In that letter share something such as, “Enclosed/attached is a booklet that helped me to understand the most important message of the Bible. I do not know if you are interested in spiritual things, but I hope you find it meaningful and helpful. I have even gotten notes back thanking me for my letter. Gospel gratitude!
- Reach out to someone who is going through a difficult season. Extend a meal, financial gift, article of clothing, warm blanket, or whatever would mean a lot to you if you were in their shoes. Be as generous as you can be. Then explain to them that your greatest concern is beyond their physical need, it is their spiritual need. You may write up your own testimony and ask them to read it, offering to answer any questions they have. Meeting someone’s physical need is often what opens the door to addressing their spiritual need. Gospel gratitude!
- Invite someone who as far as you know is a non-Christian to join you and your family for Thanksgiving. It may be a person you know who is having their first Thanksgiving without a loved one, a person who has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, someone who has a family member who is in prison. etc. Think of an unbeliever for whom Thanksgiving could be a difficult time. By inviting them into your home and asking God to turn the conversation to spiritual things, it could be one of the most rewarding Thanksgivings they and even you have ever had. Gospel gratitude!
For Christians, Thanksgiving is not a single day event, it is a 365-day way of life. What greater way can that Thanksgiving be expressed to God and others than with an attitude of gospel gratitude!
Copyright © 2020 R. Larry Moyer, used with permission.