Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanks and Giving

by Sylvia Gaston

Most Americans’ favorite holiday is Christmas. A 2015 Harris poll revealed the top favorite holidays as:

1.    Christmas (46%)
2.    Thanksgiving (19%)
3.    Halloween (9%)
4.    Fourth of July (5%)
5.    Easter (3%)
6.    New Year’s (2%)
7.    Memorial Day (1%)
8.    Birthdays (1%)
9.    Labor Day (1%)
10. Valentine’s Day (1%)

However, my favorite holiday is THANKSGIVING. In fact, I often verbalize my disappointment over the fact that in retail and outdoor home décor, Halloween is followed immediately by Christmas – even the very next day! What about Thanksgiving, people?!?

It is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. Mostly because it is about 2 things I LOVE – family and food!

My husband and I have a friendly turkey cooking competition each year. His is on the grill and mine is brined and roasted. He claims to win every year but it’s usually a tie – both are delicious. And since I love to cook, it’s fun for me to find awesome new ways to use up all of those leftovers!

But the very best part of Thanksgiving is that this particular holiday is about hanging out with family and basking in thankfulness.

There seems to be a visible shift in people’s demeanor, kindness and appreciation during this season. These are the days when we look at our, often taken-for-granted, blessings. We take stock of the loved ones in our life and the relative comfort we enjoy.

Thanksgiving is also the season where we begin to share a portion of our overflow with those who need it. Whether inviting others to share in our turkey meal or donating groceries so families can prepare their own, we begin giving because we are thankful.

My co-worker, Justine, recently wrote a Sunday school lesson entitled “Thanks and Giving”. This phrase has really stuck with me. I can’t get it out of my head.

It seems to me that when we are TRULY thankful for all that God has blessed us with, there should be a response of giving. Not only to share what we have but also as an act of gratitude for what we have been given.

In the Bible, we read about Paul, a man who has a supernatural encounter with Jesus and goes on to build and encourage the young churches for the remainder of his life. In a letter to the people of the church in Corinth, he encourages their generosity in this way:

“I have been bragging about you to the people in Macedonia…And your desire to give has made most of the people here ready to give also…Remember this: The one who plants few seeds will have a small harvest. But the one who plants a lot will have a big harvest. Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give. And God can give you more blessings than you need, and you will always have plenty of everything…The service you are offering helps God’s people with their needs, but that is not all it does. It is also bringing more and more thanks to God.” (from 1 Corinthians 9)

Read those last 2 sentences again. When we give, we are saying, “Thanks, God, for all You are doing for me. I’m so thankful, that I’m going to give.”

What are you thankful for? We should be asking and answering this question each day because out of our overflow of thanks, we begin to give. And with our giving, not only are we showing our appreciation, it can become the pebble in the water that ripples out in larger and larger rings of thanks and giving from others.

I hope this phrase gets stuck in your head and heart just as it has in mine – thanks and giving.

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