The Bible reminds us that the greatest dangers we'll ever face are prosperity and wealth. Thanksgiving can save those who remember to be thankful.
Thank You seems to be a rare commodity these days. Yet it was something that God was trying to teach His people when He led them through the desert. Moses told the people in Deuteronomy 8 “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands …. … The LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley… a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing… When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.”
In some ways this text reminds me of this country and the Puritans who settled here. They came from a life of persecution; they came to a land where they could worship God without fear. Yes, God blessed them with abundance that we still enjoy.
We know how God led the Israelites to the Promised Land, but they wouldn’t go in. They were afraid of the people living there. God promised to give them the land and they were to receive the land with thanks. But that’s not what happened. They rejected God’s gift; they were thankless, and so they wandered in the desert for 40 years.
God wasn’t punishing them by this wandering. We like to think that, but really He was teaching them to rely on Him and trust in Him for all things.
The Bible warns that some of the greatest dangers we’ll ever face are prosperity and wealth. These two are so dangerous because once we have them; they often lead us to forget that God’s the one who gives us everything.
Think about it. Everyone has needs. The poor need food, the sick need a cure, sinners need forgiveness, and those who are secure in this life need to remember where their blessings came from so they can give thanks.
Giving thanks isn’t a gift. Giving thanks is something that’s owed, like a debt that must be paid. It’s like worship, something that all creation owes to God. We receive everything as a gift from God and we give thanks for everything He gives us.
At times it’s difficult, because when you’re at the store you have to open your wallet and pay for the items you purchase, it makes us think we earned that money, and it’s our hard work that purchased those items. That’s why we need to remember one of the greatest temptations we face —the temptation of prosperity.
On Thanksgiving we’ll eat and be full; maybe we’ll remember how Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one of them stopped to give thanks. The lepers didn’t heal themselves. The same with this good land that we call ours, we didn’t create it. We received it as a gift from God. When you feast on all the delicacies made with loving hands remember we really own nothing. Remember everything we have is what we’ve received from our Lord to manage. They’re ours to wisely use for a time, but one day the Owner will return, and He’ll ask for an accounting—what have you done with the gifts you’ve received.
In our prosperity, we may forget God. That’s not good, but what makes it even worse is that in our prosperity we also forget others still need to hear of all the things God has done to bring salvation. Others need to hear of God’s mercy, and not only hear but receive His mercy. It’s one of the reasons why God has blessed us.
Throughout the Bible, God blessed chosen people. They remember the blessing they received and in thankfulness give God’s blessings to others. And the blessing we give is this: we point to the source of all blessings, the fountain of life, the Savior of the world—Jesus Christ. It’s the Receiving with Thanks that is the Thanks that we Give to others.
This Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to remember this good land, and this good life, and all the other good things we enjoy have been received as a gift from God. So we pray that God might use us that all mankind might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, in Jesus Christ our Savior, and for all these things we give God most hearty thanks. Amen.