If I were God, I believe that the saddest day for me to look down upon America would be Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a day set aside to give thanks to Him; this is its sole purpose. We take off work, kids stay home from school, we gather with our family and friends all for the purpose of enhancing our ability to show gratitude to God. Yet we fail miserably.
Thanksgiving reminds me of what Jesus says about Israel in Matthew 15:8-9, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Israel had many holidays and festivals that they practiced, yet all of them were done in vain, because their heart was not in them. There thanksgiving was hollow. They were just going through the motions, and I fear that we are doing the same.
So what is the problem? Why do we have a hollow Thanksgiving? Why do we not give God the thanks He deserves?
For the nation of Israel, their biggest problem is that they treated God as a religion, not as a relationship. They saw God as a set of rules, not as a loving Father. They believed that they could check things off a list, and this would please God. They believed that God cared more about lists then He cared about people. But their picture of God was the wrong picture, because God is love and He cares about matters of the heart.
The solution to this problem is given by God in Ezekiel 36:26-27:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
This was God’s solution for Israel. This is how God was going to fix their problem of going through the motions. He was going to perform open heart surgery. God was going to fundamentally change people from the inside out. So how does he do this?
He does this is through His Son, Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, He opened for us the possibility to finally have a heart for God. He purchased not only our salvation, but our faith. Without God intervening and giving us the capacity to worship Him, our lives would remain hollow.
This is the reason Jesus came to earth; to do for us, what we could not do ourselves. This is the blood of the New Covenant that Jesus has given to us. This is the difference between the Old and New Testament. This is what Jesus purchased on the cross, the ability to have eyes to see how great our God, the ability to be thankful is.
They key to abounding in thanksgiving is receiving Christ into your heart. When you accept Him as your Lord and Savior through faith alone, your celebration of all that has been done for you will be transformed from hollow to hallow.