“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” – Abraham Lincoln, 1863
While many are familiar with the traditional representation of the original Thanksgiving, (picture above) it is helpful to examine the purpose for which it was first celebrated. By doing this, the day’s meaning will be firmly established that it shouldn’t be just a day but a season of life that challenges us to give back to God and thank him for all he has given us.
There are four purposes of Thanksgiving.
First, God created humans for gratitude. We exist to appreciate and bring glory to God. He created us to honor him by giving him thanks. Appreciating both who God is and his actions towards us is huge. He created us and sustains us and he is fundamental in our life and the world that He created.
Second, we need to know as humans that we have all failed miserably in appreciating God. Adam and Eve and Satan ruined that with just a forbidden fruit. Satan wants more power, more glory than God. Ultimately, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Adam and Eve. Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all time: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply and painfully, ungrateful for what God gave and convinced to see more.
Third, God himself sent Jesus, to enter into our thankless world, live in flawless appreciation of his Father, and died on our behalf for our chronic ingratitude.
Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Finally, by faith in Jesus we are redeemed from our ingratitude and the eternal penalty of hell, and because of this sacrifice we are free to enjoy the pleasure of being thankful to God for his sacrifice and favor toward us and by his sacrifice we are redeemed. We should be in a continuous posture of gratitude toward our creator.
This year, make sure to take some time in prayer and remembrance, for all God has done both for our material provision and eternal salvation!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”