November. The month of thanksgiving. I know several people who are daily updating their Facebook statuses to describe the things they are thankful for. On Instagram, I’ve come across many “be thankful challenges.” I mentioned in my last post how gratitude and thankfulness always come to the forefront of my mind when this time of year comes. With this being the month when the Thanksgiving holiday takes place, it is also the month when we tend to reflect on all we have, and express thanks for it.
There is just something about giving thanks that warms our hearts and causes us to see how blessed we truly are. But true thanksgiving goes beyond seeing and saying thank you for our blessings. That is the start. A recognizing of God’s providing hand in our lives. The reason we can be always thankful. As we do see His hands at work and as our eyes shift from us to Him, there is transformation that takes place. There is fruit that is produced as a result of our being rooted in Jesus and overflowing with thanksgiving.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at Jesus’ example to learn about true thanksgiving and cultivate truly grateful hearts. Hearts that not only offer up thanks, but grow more Christ-like through giving thanks.
The Scriptures we’re going to read today show us some things about thanksgiving that I have written on before: thanksgiving humbles us and thanksgiving uplifts us. These passages are ones I have turned to many times as I have studied not only thankfulness, but also humility. For thankfulness and humility go hand in hand.
In this passage, Jesus is eating the Passover Feast with His disciples. The Passover Feast was eaten to remember and give thanks to God for His delivering His people out of slavery in Egypt.
The Passover was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death, and His delivering His people from slavery to sin and death. The cup, signifying His shed blood. The bread, signifying His beaten body. Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). A new covenant (1 Corinthians 11:25).
As Jesus took this bread and this cup, these foreshadowings of the death He was to suffer, as He ate with those who would betray and deny and abandon, He gave thanks. And on that same night, as He prayed and His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow (Matthew 26:38) and He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44), He said, “Yet not My will but Yours be done.” (Luke 2:42)
True thanksgiving must be accompanied by humility. By submission to God. A letting go of my will and an embracing of His good, pleasing and perfect will.
For who am I to thank God for His blessings, yet not submit to His plans? If I am truly thankful for what He gives, I will accept whatever He gives.
Jesus gave thanks for the new covenant that was to be established between God and man, and He submitted to His Father and accepted His will; that He would be the Lamb to make this covenant possible with the shedding of His blood, the breaking of His body, the sacrificing of His life. “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 again tells of Jesus eating the Passover Feast:
We are to remember and proclaim this sacrifice of Jesus’ sacred life, this new covenant of love and grace poured out. And isn’t that what thanksgiving is? A remembering and proclaiming the blessing upon blessing God bestows? The grace upon grace God freely gives?
And so in church we drink from the cup and we eat of the bread to remember. To reflect on the price paid for us. To offer thanks for redeeming love. In 1 Corinthians 10, this cup is referred to as “the cup of thanksgiving” (v. 16). For as we drink of it, we remember; we proclaim; we give thanks.
And we participate. We participate in the blood and body of Christ (v. 16). We give ourselves wholly to our Father, submitting to His will. Humbling ourselves by being obedient - even if it means death. Death to comfort, to ease, to wealth, to convenience, to what feels good. And in our obedience, a necessary death takes place: the death of pride; a dying to self-indulgence, self-gratification and self-worship. “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)
So this death is also an awakening to new life (Romans 6:4). For we not only participate in the laying down of our lives, but we “participate in the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4) The same power that raised Christ from the dead, exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, lives in us (Philippians 2:9-10, Ephesians 3:19-21). Those who humble themselves before the Lord will be uplifted (James 4:10). Those who submit there lives to God are raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1).
So as we offer our thanks to God, let us also offer our hearts to God. As we say, “Thank You”, let us also say, “Your will be done.
The post Give Thanks: Offering first appeared on The Overflowing
Photo from Unsplash, edited by Jessica Faith
All Scriptures taken from the NIV, copyright 2011