President’s Post: Christians, Be Thankful This Thanksgiving Day

As we get closer to the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve decided to focus this week’s column on the oldest tradition in our nation’s history. First celebrated in 1621 by Pilgrims and nationally in 1789 by proclamation of President George Washington, Thanksgiving has long been considered a day of prayer, celebration and devotion to the Lord. 

Psalm 111:1 says, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.”

The Bible commands every person made in the image of God to give thanks to the Lord. Yet, because of sin and our sinful nature; prayer, praise and thankfulness to the Lord is not something that comes natural to any of us. While all people everywhere are called to give thanks to the Lord, this is really something that only Christians who have received Christ can do, being born again and having had an inward transformation of heart.

So, this brings up a very important question: “What are some things that Christians have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day?” Here are four things to consider:

First, be thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It sounds easy, but don’t miss this. We must contend daily for our joy in Christ and know that our sins are completely forgiven. We’ve been justified and made righteous before a Holy God. Don’t ever become so familiar with hearing the good news that you forget joy and gratitude. Forgiven people are grateful people. Our infinite debt could never be paid, but Jesus paid the infinite price. That ought to be the first thing we consider Thanksgiving Day.

Second, be thankful for the ministry of the local church. Jesus Christ gave us the Church, the Bride of Christ, as a testimony to Gospel power and also as a first community. Be thankful for the many pastors, Sunday school teachers and missionaries who are working sacrificially to advance the Gospel and who disciple and shepherd the flock. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God.” Many of you will celebrate Thanksgiving around your church family. Don’t ignore or neglect the first community God has given us.

Third, be thankful for God’s good, everyday gifts.  These can be the fellowship of family, friends and, yes, even good food shared around a dinner table.  We must never take anything that we have received from the Lord for granted.  James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” We should never overlook our everyday gifts and whom they ultimately come from.  All these gifts, seen and unseen, are from the Lord.

Fourth, be thankful for religious freedom. Everyone has freedom in Christ, but not everyone has the blessing of religious liberty. Thanksgiving is a religious holiday, like Christmas. Far from a simple day of feasting or gluttony, it is a day of celebration, remembrance and worship. The history of Thanksgiving speaks to the priorities our founders had in acknowledging God and His priorities first. While many of our freedoms are being challenged and much of the world faces religious persecution, take heart that this nation still recognizes Thanksgiving Day. That too is a testament to the lasting influence of the Gospel on our culture.

So how should Christians observe Thanksgiving? Be grateful and give thanks to the Lord. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  

Enjoy God’s many gifts and don’t forget to give thanks.

Prevo is the President of Liberty University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *