Sometimes, I struggle with thankfulness this time of year. Now, despite my age, I have great health. My parents lived to 93+, so I have great genes. I am married to a great lady and we own a house and have a plan to retire with enough money, having mostly recovered from a devastating financial setback when I was in my 40s. My children are doing great and I even have wonderful grandchildren. I have much to be thankful for. The problem is that this sounds like what Jesus said in Luke 18:10 to condemn the Pharisee. 9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”
The Pharisee was thankful, but he was not justified. The tax collector cried, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner.” One was proud, and the other was humble. I often notice that if I express my pride in my good state, that closes the door to the people who are struggling. So how does one adjust ones attitude of thankfulness to include humility?
I have noticed that many people feel thankful for how they have been blessed so they choose this time of year to give to those less fortunate. Giving is a wonderful thing, if done right. Growing up, I watched doctors gather for a big party to raise money for a cause. They didn’t go anywhere near the cause, but mostly seemed to give to gain status in the other Doctor’s eyes. In Matt 6, Jesus says, “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
I have also watched people at church give to causes quietly, but again just money. Sometimes, they are giving to a scam but it doesn’t matter because they are trying to make themselves feel better. I have a daughter who gathers the money and goes to Mexico for a week to build houses. She gives intimately and gets to know the people who she is helping. This is expressing true thankfulness.
How many people are too proud to mix with the people they are helping when they give gifts of thankfulness? All too many. The giving intimately has a Christian version. There, you are saving rewards in Heaven. When you die, you leave all these thing that we are thankful for behind, such as my health, my money, my house. If you are a Christian, you are at peace, because you know you are going to heaven, but what can you take with you? Only the people you have helped. Can you imagine going to heaven and having someone say, “Thanks for the kind words of comfort, it changed my life.” or “Thanks, when I was sick and out of work, you brought soup/mowed my lawn/drove me to the doctors. You truly helped me get back on my feet.” What a great reward, to see the thankfulness in their eyes. Now think about the people who helped you and you will be able to thank for the first time in heaven. Being thankful now for those future events is real thanksgiving, especially if you did it out of love, forgetting their may be a reward, or in humility, not thinking you deserve a reward.