I recently smoked a turkey for the first time. It was incredible. It was also the first time I’d cooked a pre-Thanksgiving turkey – just to make sure I didn’t mess things up on the big day. As I sat there with my 16 pounds of taste-testing material, it got me thinking: God sure has given me a lot. I mean, some people can only dream of something like a Thanksgiving turkey, and I’ve got two! (They were on sale)
If you think about it, I’m confident you’ll realize the same thing. As we gather around our holiday feasts and thank God for how he’s blessed us, I feel like someone should ask, “Why?” Why has God deemed us worthy of such freedom, such resources, such food! Why has God blessed our church so richly while persecution and poverty still pervade our world?
I think God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis gives us some insight:
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessingGenesis 2:12
Our families have been blessed to enable us to be a blessing. That’s what it’s all for! So the next question is: are we using our resources the way we should, to bless the world? Thanksgiving, ironically, is when many can lose a biblical perspective on the things God has given them, moving more toward over-indulgence than generosity (guilty).
Paul told the church in Corinth…
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.2 Corinthians 9:11
So true thanksgiving is produced not only by “counting our blessings”, but by generously giving them away. God does not actually need our stuff to accomplish his purposes, but, in his great love, invites us to experience the incredible joy of giving alongside him. Pastor Johnny Hunt said it well: “You’re never more like Jesus that when you’re giving.”
For the church father Augustine, this was pretty practical: “Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.” If only I had the faith to live this simply! We are to be using every ounce that we can for God’s glory among the nations and across the street. So how can you sacrifice for the good of another this Thanksgiving? More than sharing your leftovers (delicious as they may be) this means giving the very best of your time, energy, resources and love to those who need it most and so prepare them to receive the ultimate gift of the gospel.
There is so much more I can afford to do, and I will be pondering the ways God is calling me to give as we head into the Christmas season. In the case of my smoked turkey? I decided to call up a neighbor and share an impromptu meal – and that made it even more incredible. You might say I turned my turkey twofer into two for turkey (*and the crowd goes wild*). Gotta get my pre-Thanksgiving dad jokes on too.