Where Is Your Thanksgiving Going?

How to tell the difference between true thankfulness and "cosmic plagiarism.”

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I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

Thanksgiving is a time of year when we set aside a day to celebrate and give thanks for all of the blessings that we have received. Many families often go around the Thanksgiving table expressing gratitude and sharing one thing that they are thankful for receiving. You’ll often hear thanks expressed for things like family and health and food and shelter.

The problem with this thankfulness, is that it usually never gets directed towards anything. It’s abstract gratitude that is indirectly expressed towards no one in particular. This type of thankfulness usually masks a spirit of self-congratulation (after all, we’re the ones who worked for what we got) or a sense of feeling lucky.

But giving thanks for the blessings of our lives shouldn’t be an opportunity to pat ourselves on the back or to thank our good luck. First and foremost, thankfulness should be directed to God. Why? Because all of the things that we’re thankful for are ultimately from Him. As the Bible says in James 1: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”

When we don’t give thanks specifically to God for all of the gifts He has given to us, we commit, as one pastor puts it, “cosmic plagiarism.” In the same way that plagiarism is stealing another person’s work without giving credit, cosmic plagiarism means that we use God’s blessings but then we refuse to give Him the glory for what He has done.

Instead of expressing thankfulness indirectly, we should be like the psalmist in Psalm 100, who expressed his gratitude directly to God. He wrote:

Know that the Lord, He is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

True thanksgiving is ultimately directed towards God, the source of every good thing in life. This means that you should be thankful to God for the opportunity to:

  • Go to school and receive an education.
  • Develop your gifts and talents.
  • Choose a major or a career that you enjoy and find meaningful.
  • Live in a time of peace where you can go to college after high school.
  • Enjoy a variety and abundance of food.

These blessings are very easy to take for granted in the United States, but they aren’t  here solely because of human ingenuity or random chance. Rather, they are the result of God’s blessing on ourselves, our families, and our communities.

So this Thanksgiving, as you have the chance to give thanks for many things in your life, seek to give God the glory He deserves for all of the blessings He has given to you.

// Photo by Priscilla Du Preez //


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