Most folks we know will enjoy a superb meal on Thanksgiving. We want to provide good meals for those who are hungry on Thanksgiving. However, if we are not careful, the thanks we give on this Thanksgiving Day will be tragically meager and insufficient, even if the meal on our table is a large feast. This shortcoming may occur in three ways:
A person can have a meager Thanksgiving by thanking people, but failing to thank God. God takes it seriously when we fail to thank Him for His bounty. In discussing the sins of the lost world in Romans 1:21-32, the apostle Paul writes of idolatry, sexual immorality, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, gossip, boasting, and other sins. At the very beginning of this passage, however, Paul writes, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (1:21).
I once attended a state college’s graduation ceremony at which a prayer of thanks was led. The odd thing about this prayer is that was not addressed to anybody in particular. Rather, it was a generic, non-religious statement of being thankful. The prayer leader said “We are thankful” to a variety of people (e.g., family, friends, professors, etc.), but never even mentioned the One Who created all of those people. To thank the real Creator of the Universe, the Giver of every good gift, was too politically incorrect for such an occasion.
A person can have a meager Thanksgiving by thanking God, but by failing to thank people who have helped us. God brings into our lives many people who freely choose to sacrificially support us. The apostle Paul is a great example of gratitude. Paul thanked the Philippians for their support of his missionary work (Philippians 4:14-20). He expressed thanks to Phoebe, Aquila, Priscilla (Romans 6:1-4), and Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 2:16-18). Paul implicitly thanked Christians for their service as he thanked God for them (e.g., Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Colossians 1:3). Those of Malta thanked Paul (Acts 28:10). As we render honor to whom honor is due, we thank them (Romans 13:7).
A person can have a meager Thanksgiving by giving thanks on the holiday and then forgetting to give thanks after that. The Bible teaches that thanksgiving must be ongoing: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (emp. added; cf. 2 Corinthians 9:15; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Make your Thanksgiving complete by your giving thanks to God Himself, to those people who have helped you, and by continuing your gratitude throughout the year.