Thanksgiving & Christianity

Turkey, mashed potatoes, and grandma’s marshmallowed yams. Thanksgiving is a celebration for your belly, but what about your heart? We celebrate Easter and Christmas as Christian holidays, but should we include Christianity in our November feasting? And if so, how can we bring together Christ and Thanksgiving, two seemingly unrelated entities of our lives?

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul acknowledges the Lord’s dominion in all things. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (NIV). Per the doctrine of total depravity, it would then be a sin to not eat and drink all things to the glory of God. Or, do anything that usurps or ignores the glory of God. Thus, Thanksgiving should be celebrated (as should every other holiday) with the intent of glorifying the Lord. So that turkey, those mashed potatoes are made and consumed for His glory. This is a good thing.

So how do we go about celebrating Thanksgiving in a godly manner? First, give thanks for the blessings in your life. Sure, this sounds cliché, but when done for the glory of God, it is anything but typical. Psalm 95:2 says, “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (NIV). Coming before Him is an act of submission, and should therefore be entered into humbly. Quite frequently, we give thanks for good things that have happened to us or we’ve done ourselves. Boiled down, such thanks are given with a sense of pride, a sense of our own achievement. Instead, I extol you to enter into thanksgiving with the humblest of hearts, understanding that everything you have and have achieved is from the Lord. Also, thanksgiving isn’t supposed to stop after the meal’s prayer. Thanks should always be given, and be given with music and song. In other words, thanksgiving should be given humbly and joyfully.

Giving humbly and joyfully throughout the entirety of Thanksgiving Day, we should also glorify God while eating turkey and mashed potatoes. 1 Timothy 4:3-5 talks of hypocrites: “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (NIV). Because God created all things as good, turkey, mashed potatoes and every other assortment of Thanksgiving dinner was created “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.” Thus, as Christians who believe the truth, we shall eat with thanksgiving, drink with thanksgiving, and be together with thanksgiving. God has given us such food and drink to be enjoyed with constant and continual thanks, but not perverted with gluttony and ignorance. So, eat and drink on Thanksgiving Day for God’s glory.

Lastly, while glorifying God on this holiday, we should also serve others. In Matthew 18:20, Christ says, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” (NIV). Come together as family, friends or community and eat Thanksgiving dinner together; done with the intent to glorify the Lord, Christ will be amongst you. Perhaps most important to this notion is serving while coming together. Invite someone you don’t know or someone you just met to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family. Paul writes, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” (1 Corinthians 9:19 NIV). This Thanksgiving, make yourself a slave for others in order to glorify the Lord, and remember to keep pride at bay when doing so.

With Christ as its center, Thanksgiving can become not only a feast for our bellies but for our hearts. Feasting on God’s glory, we must work on His purpose and will this holiday season. God bless.

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