Thanksgiving. Something we Americans love to celebrate. It’s the smell of savory and the taste of sweet. It’s the conversations, travel, football, hunting, and cooler weather. It’s the naps, open windows, games, laughter, and family. It’s a picture of community, of friendship, of fellowship. It’s time when we stop and remember an ideal–something we all want to possess each day of the year–gratitude. There are some who take a moment to reflect, or to consider something specific that they are thankful for. Maybe it’s the birth of a child…the memory of a loved-one…the provision of a job…the food on the table. It’s nevertheless an ideal. It’s a longing. It’s something we hope for. Something we long to possess. That is to say, a striving to express gratitude regularly in our lives.
The Christian knows this to be true, but like every other human can find yourself struggling for the energy to regularly express it. It’s an elusive and slippery reality, gratitude that is. It’s shy, and it finds a way to duck out of the room whenever it is addressed. Honesty knows this to be true. Oftentimes we’re critical when we should be grateful. Often we’re selfish when we should be considerate, and trite when we should be thoughtful.
What would keep the attitude of gratitude from being expressed throughout the year? Who are the Three Thieves that keep us from living with a more consistent disposition of thankfulness?
1 – Busy
What I mean by busy is full. Think of it this way…imagine that you have a wall that you are going to decorate. What do you put on the wall? Do you put pictures? Shelves? Paintings? What do you put on the wall? For many, there is a lot of consideration. The painting(s) should be hung at eye level. The pictures should be in a collage, and their frames should match the decor of the room. And on and on. There is a lot of consideration given to decorating a wall.
What if instead you just threw things up all over the wall without consideration? What if you just put things up willy-nilly and hodge-podge? The simple answer is that it would be busy. It would be full. There wouldn’t be correct spacing or consideration to matching or patterns. It would be too full of stuff. And as a result, every time you walked past that wall you would probably shudder. More than likely you would find it hard to be thankful for the things on the wall. You might like one thing or another, but you would have to work at it to move past the chaos.
Our lives can become so busy and full that we are robbed of the mere joy of order. Even if your personality doesn’t trend toward order, strive for it.
You’ll be thankful you did!
2 – Discontent
What I mean by discontent is not satisfied. Think of it this way…you’ve worked all day long outside, you’re tired, you’re hungry, and you want a big glass of something cold and wet to drink. As you make your way to the refrigerator you see something that looks like lemonade. You grab it and you begin to drink it with full vigor. A couple of seconds pass and you realize that you’re drinking pickle juice. It’s cold. It’s wet. But it’s not satisfying. You were looking for something different, and as a result you ended up with a bitter cup of pungent pickle juice.
What if you kept coming back to the pickle juice after each day’s hard work? You had others things to choose from in the refrigerator, but the way the pickle juice looks in its nice glass container keeps drawing you back for more.
So often in our lives we’re drawn by what we can see versus what we know to be true. We act out of emotion, out of fear, out of a desire to please. Whatever it is, it’s dramatic, it’s passionate, it’s temporary. That’s like being drawn in by the lemonade-lookalike pickle juice jar. The body needs something that would satisfy it, but instead it keeps receiving a bitter cup. Even if the temptation to grab for things that don’t satisfy is so strong–stay away–resist at all costs!
You’ll be thankful you did!
3 – Selfish
What I mean by selfish is consumed. Think of it this way…it’s Christmas morning when you were a kid. The decorations are still on the tree…the presents are all opened…wrapping paper is every where…and you’re sitting there with your favorite present. All of a sudden your cousin comes over and grabs your present and starts to play with it right in front of you. What audacity. How unkind. And as you sit there your frustration level begins to rise. With a loud voice, you say, “Give me that back…it’s mine!” Right then and there is the moment of selfishness…of being consumed. Of course, the cousin should have asked first before taking your favorite present. That’s a different topic. Nevertheless, the moment of truth came when you said, “…it’s mine!”
What if you viewed every one of your possessions that way? You’re an adult now, and your possessions might be your house, your car, your TV, your job, your computer, your dress, your shoes, etc. etc.
We often find ourselves consumed by our things. Usually being consumed by them makes us selfish. We don’t want to share. We don’t want to give. We really do believe that, “…it’s mine!” The reality is, everything is a gift. Sure you work for things, but even your job is a gift. Better yet, your ability to perform at your job is a gift. What did you contribute to the forming of your mind? Your strength? Your eye color? Your hair color? You might have disciplined yourself, but your DNA was a gift. Remember that point…everything is a gift…everything!
You’ll be thankful you did!
“Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP
— November 23, 2017