I’m going to be honest here. I usually approach the Thanksgiving holiday feeling a little glutinous and guilty. Society has categorized Thanksgiving as that one time a year when we pay homage to all of our blessings. We buy our turkeys, and prepare them with all the trimmings only to sit down and eat more than we should. We then follow it up with an afternoon of sitting in front of the t.v. watching football games.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious meal with family and friends. There’s also nothing at all wrong with watching a good football game. But, if we are truly grateful, shouldn’t the blessed be blessing others? As a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t our thanks to God should be occurring all year long?
The Bible does have something to say about what we are to do with our blessings. In fact, giving is associated with our obedience to Christ.
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”2 Corinthians 9:6-7
So, this Thanksgiving I want to pose a challenge: let’s not only utter a “thank you” to God as we eat our turkey, but let’s take it one step further and give away some of what we have received.
Here are three ways we can take our thanksgiving one step further.
Ask God For A Giving Heart
Several years ago, my husband and I went through Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. One of the main principles of this program is to “live like no one else so that you can give like no one else.” Its hard to be a giver when there is nothing left to give. This part of the program resonated with me on a deep level. When I realized the reason I couldn’t just help a stranger in need or donate to that ministry I loved was because I owed so much money to creditors, I really wanted to pay off the debt!
Sometimes our hearts are the same way. We have our heart tied up in other things, and although we have been blessed in tremendous ways, we are unable to give because we can’t see past the hurt, pain, material goods, or busy schedule that lies before us.
If you are realizing that your heart is tied to everything but giving, the good news is that God can change your heart. If you want to be free of these other things so that you can become a giver, ask God to change your heart. Pray Psalm 51:10 over your situation, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Jeremiah 24:7 says, “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.” God can change your heart!
Ask God Where to Give
When our hearts are ready to give, we can ask God to show us where to give. You may already know exactly where to direct your resources, but if you don’t, God will show you. You may be surprised at what he reveals.
One time, I was shopping for groceries and God highlighted a very specific way he wanted me to give. It sounded so crazy at the time, but I know God had a purpose. You can read that story here: https://michelleflaningan.com/the-box-of-groceries/
Make Gratitude and Giving A Habit
It is great to be a one-time giver for certain causes. There are times in our lives when a particular need will arise and God will move our hearts toward a specific campaign or organization. However, giving should become a part of our lives. When we give, we are being obedient and this is an act of worship. Hebrews 3:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
As a act of obedience, we can make it a daily practice to give God thanks for something in our lives. Some days we may only be able to utter a quick thank you for the meal we are eating or the house we live in. Other times we can be more intentional. One idea is to jot down a few things in a notebook you are thankful for over the span of a week. At the end of the week, read the list and see God’s goodness in your life.
Another thing we can do is to give of our time or money on a weekly or monthly basis. Have you supported a missionary family? Make it a recurring donation. Did God move your heart toward a community food pantry? Pick up an extra item or two each time you buy your own groceries and donate them to the pantry. Whatever it is, making it a habit will keep your heart centered and your eyes open.
Let’s take Thanksgiving one step further this year. As we eat our turkey dinner and gather with family and friends, let’s realign our hearts toward what God wants us to do with all he’s given us. Let’s make giving thanks an action.
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