Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Attitude Behind the Gratitude

Thanksgiving has been called the forgotten holiday.
It's sandwiched between Halloween & Christmas, both very commercial.
There's hardly a spot on the store shelves for turkeys & pilgrims.
As soon as the masses of costumes are gone, the isles are quickly filled with garland & gift wrap.
Christmas seems to come sooner each year.

I'll admit, even in our own family, we haven't honored Thanksgiving Day as we could have.
It's easy to get caught up in the festivities & lose focus of the true meaning & significance.

Last week, James said that we'd be focusing all this week on the true meaning of Thanksgiving in our evening family worship.
I've given the boys 2 writing assignments this week.
The first was to write about their greatest spiritual blessing of the year.
The other was to write what event/occasion of 2010 that they were most grateful it impacted them & how they benefited from it.

Each day this week, our morning devotions have been about thankfulness & gratitude.
I stumbled across a excellent one & wanted to share a portion of it.

It begins with Cain & Abel at harvest time with Cain bringing the Lord a gift of his farm produce...& Abel, choice lambs from his flock.

Here is what the scripture records in Genesis 4: 3-7:In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.  And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering, he had no regard.  So Cain was very angry and his face fell.  And the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."

One thanksgiving, two men, two offerings, and two different reactions.
The Lord was looking for both of them to realize who was God and who was not.
God wanted, on this first thanksgiving, for them to bring an offering to praise Him.

Why did God reject Cain's offering?
While there are many theories, the most common is that he Cain wasn't operating from the right motives.
Abel, however, gave his offering with a grateful heart, which is why God smiled back at him.

Are you more of a 'Cain' or an 'Abel'?

Here's a glimpse into what a Thanksgiving would look like for Cain:
He's looking forward to gorging himself on free food.
He is thankful for a few days off from school or work {because he likes to be lazy}.
He wants to be served first at the table, and when it comes time to give thanks before the meal, his mind wanders to what is going on with the football game.
When his family gathers to have a time of sharing about things for which they are thankful, he is annoyed that his family that has to do such cheesy things, and wishes he didn't have to follow any rules.
Eventually the day ends, and finally he utters a quick prayer to God, thanking Him for...what was it again?
Oh yeah, all the cool stuff he has.
This kind of thanksgiving may look real on the outside, but in reality it is fake and useless, and that is why God rejects it.

Abel, on the other hand, remembers that even the very air he breathes is a gift from God.
He knows that if there is anything good in his life, it is directly from the hand of God.
His focus is to take the energy he would normally devote to school/work and direct it towards thanking God and serving others.
He is helpful, intentional in listening to others, and active in participating in the family traditions.
At the end of the day he counts his many blessings and gives thanks for each and every one of them.

What a difference in attitudes!

At this time of year, especially, as we reflect on life and respond with being thankful, but let's remember that God cares very much about the attitude behind the gratitude.

True & heartfelt thankfulness {all year long} has an amazing effect.

It protects us from sin, gives us hope, & turns our eyes on Jesus.

1 Thess. 5:18 In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment