At its worst, Thanksgiving is simply an excuse to stuff ourselves silly with food and watch football all day. But at its best, it is an opportunity for us as followers of Christ to reflect upon what we are truly grateful for. One of the most striking Biblical passages on gratitude is found in Rom 1:21. Having stated what can be perceived about God in creation such that humanity is without excuse, Paul says:
"For even though they knew God, they did not glorify God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom 1:21)
Paul places humanity's ingratitude at the heart of our rebellion against him. Gratitude flows from a heart that is overwhelmed with the grace of God shown in the cross (cf. Col. 2:6-7). The author of Hebrews goes even further:
"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:28-29).
Notice what gratitude is linked to in this passage: participating in the kingdom, a life of worship, reverence, and a recognition of God's consuming holiness. Gratitude is a tangible demonstration that we are living out the kingdom in the present in anticipation of its consummation.
So tomorrow, as you are sitting down to eat with friends and family, reflect upon the ultimate grounds of Christian gratitude. How can we not be grateful for God (who reveals himself as a consuming fire) sending his Son to bear the wrath that we deserve?