Thanksgiving, that beautiful and powerful interaction with God, the Giver of good gifts. This will be the final post in this “Give Thanks” series, but giving thanks will not cease. For God’s goodness and love will not cease.
We have seen in Jesus’ example that true thanksgiving is accompanied by humility and submission to God. As I give thanks for God’s blessings, I also give up my own will to follow His will. We have also seen that true thanksgiving is accompanied by trust; choosing to place our faith in God and give thanks to Him even when life is difficult and what is needed seems to be in short supply.
Today, we are going to go back to these examples of Jesus. His giving thanks and submitting to His Father’s will, and His giving thanks and trusting God to feed the multitude and raise the dead. In these acts of thanksgiving and submission and trust, we will also see generosity. For a truly grateful heart is also a generous heart.
In Matthew 14, Jesus feeds five thousand men, along with an unnumbered amount of women and children, with just five loaves of bread and two small fish. Before passing out the food, He gave thanks and put His faith in God to provide. And then He gave. And gave. And gave. And all were satisfied. (vv. 13-21)
On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took the bread that foreshadowed His broken body and He took the cup that foreshadowed His shed blood, and He gave thanks. And just before being arrested, He prayed to His Father, “Not My will, but Your’s be done.” And then He gave. And gave. And gave. And all were ransomed. (Matthew 26:26-39; Luke 22:42)
Jesus gave thanks, trusted in God, and gave food to all.
Jesus gave thanks, submitted to God, and gave His life for all.
Thanksgiving brings about generosity because in giving thanks our eyes are no longer focused on self. We are looking up and out. We are seeing with the eyes of God. We are seeing His blessings and gifts as blessings and gifts. That which we could never earn. Unmerited favor. Not works-earned, but grace-given.
And these blessings and gifts, this unmerited favor, this love poured out, this grace lavished, they are not to stop at us. They are not to end with the transforming of our hearts and lives. Because as they transform us more into Jesus’ likeness, they cause us to also give. And give. And give. As Matthew 10:8 says, “Freely you have received; freely give.”
In both Romans 12:13 and Ephesians 4:28, we are given the instruction to share with those in need. This giving can be done in many different ways. Opportunity for generosity comes in many shapes and forms.
There is a passage in 2 Corinthians 9 where we see that God’s blessings do not stop with us; that His working in our lives is to also affect other lives:
Those who sow generously will also reap generously. For if we close our fists and hoard our gifts, our heart and hands are not open to the will of God and thus not open to receive from God. If we are vulnerably open and allow ourselves to be emptied, we are also fully open to be filled.
This giving is to be done cheerfully. Joyful generosity. Willful benevolence. And we can have joy in our giving, for we have the promise that God will supply all we need. His are the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). His are the storehouses of heaven (Jeremiah 10:13). Unlimited. Boundless. Immeasurable.
When we put our trust in such a God as this, One who does not withhold but has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), how can we withhold for fear that there will not be enough?
For God enriches so we “can be generous on every occasion.” Whether time or resources or talents, He gives so we too can give.
And this giving, it results in thanksgiving. And overflowing of gratitude. A praising of God for all He has done. For in giving, we are revealing. We are directing other’s eyes to the true Giver, that they may receive from Him and be transformed by Him.
God’s working in our lives does not stop with us. He gives peace and strength and joy and comfort and hope and love not only to transform and grow us, but that we may be a blessing to others. That His light may shine bright within us, not only giving us light to see, but illuminating His love to others.
So as we give thanks for the blessings God has so freely given us, let us also share those blessings and freely give to others, that they may see our Father’s love for them.
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The post Give Thanks: Freely Give first appeared on The Overflowing
Photo from Unsplash, edited by Jessica Faith
All Scripture taken from the NIV, copyright 2011