The Arp family has a little tradition around the dinner table that we borrowed from some friends of ours. Every time we gather around the dinner table we find time to say what we are thankful for that day. Now this can be very varied depending on the day and the kids moods, but most of the time it is a reflection on the blessings that we feel we have received. And why not? Most of the time, at least in Western culture I think it is important to be thankful for the insane privilege and blessings that we enjoy. I’m not saying this as a bad thing, it’s just that we enjoy an amazing amount of privilege and wealth compared to many in the rest of the world. Which got me thinking; is being thankful enough?
The word that we use for this time of year and for the upcoming holiday is Thanksgiving. Which finds it’s roots in scripture strangely enough. And I think it’s always a good thing to find scriptural roots of modern concepts; if they exist. Who am I kidding? I find scriptural relevance in almost everything. But in this instance, the Hebrew word we translate as thanksgiving is towdah and can be better translated as thanks offering. Now I am not the greatest Hebrew scholar, but I feel like when the word offering is involved there is a bit more sacrificial giving involved than the passing of wind over the vocal chords in some word of thanks. There is an implication of action. Of doing. Of sacrificing.
Now for me, there is this always this one verse in scripture that I come back to with some sense of conviction when I think about thankfulness and blessings. Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” And we are a very materially blessed people. Even those of you reading this who are struggling financially are in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest.* But I think the implication behind the text above is that being thankful isn’t really enough in and of itself. Being thankful and giving of what you have i.e. thanksgiving is more of the proper response. Time and time again we are reminded of our responsibility to give and to care for those around us. And maybe that’s what this season can really be for us. A reminder not to count our material blessings and fill our bellies, but rather a reminder to see how we might be able to bless those around us and fill the bellies of those who can’t fill their own. Maybe then we will fulfill the law of love and give with thankful hearts out of what we have been given.
*http://www.globalrichlist.com/ Stat based on an annual income of $18,000 annual salary which is below the US Poverty line