Let me paint you a picture. My husband wants to do something nice for me. He cleans the whole house, washes and folds all the laundry, cooks dinner, balances our checkbook, gives the dog a bath (no easy task), and even has time to organize my shoes in the closet because he’s just that amazing. I come home after a long, busy day at work, look at the house, tell him “You missed a spot,” and carry on about my business. How terrible would he feel if I did this? (This has never happened before, by the way. Just an example!) I would devastate him, destroy all the work and effort he gave all day in one fail swoop. It would cause tension in our relationship and he would begin to distance himself from me to protect his feelings. So why do we do this to God? Why do we look at all the wonder and splendor He has given and blessed us with, and immediately point out something else we need? “Yeah, thank you God for my breath, but my finances are a wreck this month.” In other words, we tell God He missed a spot.
As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I have to ask what it truly means to be thankful for what we have been given. We’re thankful for our family because they fill our lives with love. We’re thankful for our friends because they give encouragement and laughter freely. We’re thankful for our churches because they challenge us to grow in our faith and build us up on this crazy road called life.
But what do we do with all this Thanksgiving? Do we tell God “Thank you for all these great and wonderful things that you’ve blessed me with. Amen,” and then move on with our lives for the next year? God has never been one to have us talk about something without following it up with an action. James tells us that “faith without works is dead.” God always wants us to respond to Him with action. But what’s the action that we take?
Let’s look at a well-known passage of scripture that you have probably seen in abundance this season already. Psalm 100:4 says “Enter His courts with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name.” (ESV) What did He mean here when He said enter with Thanksgiving? This is what I love about looking at the Hebrew origins. When we take a look at the Hebrew word used here for Thanksgiving, we see the word towdah. This word when translated means an extension of the hand, confession, and sacrifice of praise. The picture that we have here is coming before the Lord with an open hand, not to receive, but to give. I am responding to His blessing, to His mercy, to His provisions by giving myself. I come before Him with a sacrifice of praise, meaning I’m offering Him whatever I have in return for all He has given me.
Go back to the example I gave at the beginning. If Jared did all those things for me, I would respond out of love and gratitude. I would give what I have in return of my heart and my time. I would most definitely be doing the dishes that night. We should be responding to God the same way. We should offer our heart, our time, and our hands in return for all He has given us.
This final week of the Thanksgiving season, challenge yourself to respond in action to all that you have been given. What can you do to express thanksgiving with an open hand mindset?