by Rev. Keith Hood
We’ve had much to be thankful for in our lives .We have a gracious God who bestows good upon us even when we forget His benevolence. When I reflect back upon the first Thanksgiving celebrations, I see a group of people who didn’t approach life with a sense of entitlement. These were people who arrived in the New World with a sense of providing for themselves or extinction. They understood the biblical concept of hard work. “For even when we were with you we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.”(2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
When did we get to the point of entitlement? I’m afraid that many who have a sense of entitlement place this upon God as well. Let’s look at what we’re entitled: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(Romans 3:23) “For the wages of sin is death,”(Romans 6:23a). So many expect to earn heaven by their goodness. Compared to the holiness of God, there is none righteous, not one! So, what are you thankful for? “For by grace (unmerited favor) you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”(Ephesians 2:8-9)
Here’s a good reason to be thankful. I gave the first part of Romans 6:23 earlier. Here it is complete: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” He paid the penalty for our sins on the cross and rose again to offer us that gift. Is it owed to us? No! Paul taught in Acts 20:21: “testifying to the Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. . . the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel (good news) of the grace (undeserved favor) of God.” We don’t deserve it but call on Him and it’s free. Be thankful!
As when Paul ministered in Acts, the first Thanksgiving was a cross cultural event. Let us consider the words of Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained a feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
I am thankful for God, family, the fact that I am an American, and the fact I was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1962. Fifty years after that date, it was Thanksgiving Day on my birthday again. Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!