Thanksgiving day in the USA is fast approaching. I have always thought that this celebration was at its heart something that we need to exercise in ever greater earnest. However, over time it has become a mockery of its original intent and purpose.
Do you think we can return to that purpose and freely give back what is given to us in our freedom?
Sorry for the holiday buzz-kill. Well, no, maybe I’m not.
This year I’ve had a unique perspective on the Thanksgiving holiday coming up. Money is extremely tight due to the lack of a job. Mind you, I’m not despondent nor critical as a result of being unemployed at the moment. This is nothing more than a bump in the road. While the jolt to our lifestyle has shifted us from our comfortable position, the fact remains, we have a buggy to ride in!
And if by chance we lose the buggy, we have feet to walk with.
Even if we lost the ability to walk, and everything that we have come to become accustomed to, we have something that cannot be taken from us, nor lost to calamity. That something is the freedom of our salvation.
Take note: I’m speaking directly to followers of Jesus Christ. If you haven’t established a relationship with the Creator, I invite you to do that so you can experience this freedom as well. By all means, read along regardless.
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (CSB)
The grace imparted on those who trust in Jesus is totally unmerited. We don’t deserve it, we didn’t earn it, we have not claimed to it, except that which has been imparted to us by that very grace.
By this grace, we are set free. Free from the obligation that sin put us under. Free from the punishment that we rightly deserve due to our rebellion. Jesus took all of that obligation and punishment upon himself for us.
This new found freedom places us in a position that is liberating to be sure, but at the same time, should not the gratitude for our release from bondage be something that initiates our response to this freedom? I believe it does.
Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.
John 8:34-36 (CSB)
We were enslaved to sin, the Son of God set us free from the consequences of that sin and because he is forever in the household of God, this sin is gone, as if it never existed before. Washed by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus who is God only Son.
If the Son of the living God sets us free, we are truly free! This is undeniable freedom and something that we should not treat as a trivial gift!
What should be our response to this gift of salvation and consequently freedom? Automatically you think of gratitude.
Do we approach Thanksgiving Day with gratitude? Or is it a feast that we have earned a right to after all our hard work? Is it an opportunity to acknowledge God’s grace in our lives or is it a great time to kick back and watch some football and parades?
The response to these gifts should be gratitude towards the giver. We have drifted so far away from the concept of gratitude and thankfulness, that what would be our reasonable behavior, escapes us. We fail to return thanks and commit ourselves to Jesus, for the grace that he has given to us.
For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves.
1 Peter 2:15-16 (CSB)
Foolish people. Are we one of them? Have we been in the past by our participation in the abuse of freedom by continuing to do that which had enslaved us?
Let us do that no more. Let us not use our freedom as an excuse to abuse the grace that provides it. As people who have been blessed with freedom, we should submit to God as people indentured to Jesus. Obligated to him by our thankfulness for that which he has given to us.
That’s real freedom. That is real thanksgiving. Surrender of the freedom he’s given us by his grace, to him for the purpose of his will.
True thanksgiving isn’t a meal around a table, in a warm house, with family on a crisp November day. It’s not kicking back in the living room to watch on television the parades and games. It is certainly not the throngs of people straining to get holiday bargains as the stores open their doors.
None of that is true thanksgiving. It’s not necessarily bad either. But with the grace given us by Jesus and the freedom it affords us, doesn’t the reasonable response of gratitude dictate that we surrender back to him that freedom and be his obedient servant and disciple?
It certainly would be a day of thanksgiving, if we were in a position where we could surrender ourselves to him. It would be a day of thanksgiving if thanks were freely given to him for the grace he’s freely given us.