CULTIVATING AND MAINTAINING THE HABIT OF THANKFULNESS (GRATITUDE) (PART SIX): CHRISTMAS AND THANKSGIVING
The focus of this sixth article of the series centered on the mechanics and necessity of thanksgiving is on the significant question, “To whom should all thanks be given?” In previous article we have already considered why should we give thanks (purpose/reason), how to give thanks (mechanics), what to give thanks to God for (substance), when to give thanks (timing), and now our attention is on the Object of all of our thanksgivings. The point has been made again and again God that the Almighty is the Object or better still the ultimate Purpose, Reason and Ground of all thanksgivings.
Why? Because he is the Owner and Judge of all humans and of all things. It has been emphasized over and over that all living things ought to give thanks at all times, in all places and for everything and every circumstance (good or bad) because he is all good and can be trusted to bring some good out of all situations for those who trust him for everything. Of course, If we truly know how to be grateful to God we will soon learn to be grateful to all persons and things who help us live and appreciate life better. Since the thrust of this article is on the Person to whom all of our thanksgivings are to be directed, we shall be exploring Christmas as one of the mains reasons we give thanks God. The fifth article on when to thank God and one another observed the following points:
When is it right and appropriate to give thanks to God and fellow human beings? The clear simple biblical teaching is that we thank God always and for every situation (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We thank God when all is well as well as when all is bad with us. Why? Because we believe and know that since he is with us, around us and within us, we always triumph ultimately. We ought to thank God in the morning, in the evening, in the day and in the night, when we are well and when we are sick, when we succeed and when we fail. We should be thankful to God when we have plenty and when have little or nothing, when we are full and when we are hungry. Thanksgiving is appropriate on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and everyday that God gives us.
We always show gratitude to others by saying “thank you” sincerely when they are kind to us in many different ways such as giving us food, clothes, a place to stay, direction, advice, school fees, and any kind of support. It is also fitting to thank groups and institution that are kind to us by enabling us bear the heavy loads along many life’s journeys.
Christmas and what it means is Jesus of Nazareth. It is celebrating his birthday whether we know the exact date of not. We thank God and dance about his goodness because of who Jesus is and means for mankind. Jesus came to show us how to be true human beings and how to live as we ought to. He was born in a country colonized by the Roman Empire. His parents were so poor that that they could not afford a hotel/motel bill and so he was born in a stable where animals feed. He experienced hate, betrayal, temptations, hunger and thirst, and crucifixion, the worst form of the death penalty reserved by the Romans for slaves and the worst of criminals.
Yet by obedience to his father’s will, by service to all who needed his help, by loving and teaching he taught and still teaches us how to live, fight and overcome sin and evil in us and around us, and how to be a winner over evil and know genuine peace and joy. We celebrate Christmas because it is about God giving us his best when we least deserve it. Christmas is about sharing, goodwill and knowing genuine peace amid the challenges and difficulties of life.
Christmas is about God Almighty intervening into a sinful and ugly situation of the Jews and all mankind. He used love, humility, service and teaching by example as a way to overcome evil. Hate, violence, exploitation of others, discriminating against persons or groups because of color, ethnicity, religion and accidents of place of birth, economic status or lack, and superiority tendencies will not help us and the world around us. Will we choose good over evil this Christmas and learn to live the Jesus’ way? Let us learn to give for the good of others. Let us share with others some of the good things we enjoy in life. If God can intervene in our ugly situations and bring some good out of them, we too can intervene into other people’s situations and be a force for good.
We sincerely thank God for Jesus by striving at this Christmas and always to open our lives to God who is willing to help us overcome our own weaknesses and then seek to help others do the same. Jesus is the primary goal and purpose for all of our thanksgivings because he is our Blesser, our Peace, our Enabler and our Strength for all occasions.