During this Thanksgiving Season,
How shall we be thankful?
The Key to Thankfulness……Remembrance and Humility
Dear, Family and Friends,
As we have moved through this Thanksgiving week I have once again been sadly reminded of how little we as a nation now take to heart the real meaning and origins of this holiday that we celebrate. It really is now almost anything but what its name refers to. How did we get here? I still remember a time when families and churches met together on that day specifically to give their undivided attention and thanks to God and to remember all the blessings that He had given them in the year before. To answer this may I offer an observation that may surprise you because at first glance it is not obvious.
“C.S. Lewis, in his book “Mere Christianity” called pride “the great sin.” Every believer should read this chapter by that title. In there Lewis said, According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…
… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.
If this sounds like exaggeration, it will help us to know that Lewis is not simply giving us his private opinion but summarizing the thinking of great saints through the ages. Augustine and Aquinas both taught that pride was the root of sin.2 Likewise Calvin, Luther, and many others. Make no mistake about it: pride is the great sin. It is the devil’s most effective and destructive tool. Why do the great spiritual leaders, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant alike, unite around this conviction? Because it is so clearly and solidly taught in Scripture.” From the C.S. Lewis Institutre.
So how do we deal with that? From another great Christian writer the late John R.W. Stott we hear the answer “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.” From the C.S. Lewis Institutre.
May I encourage you sometime this Thanksgiving Season to take some time and read / meditate on the admonition God gave His people in Deuteronomy 8, and take particular note of verses 11- 17. God gave our Hebrew forefathers in the Faith, Rom. 4:11-12, this admonition as a nation before they entered the land promised to their forefather Abraham. In short, they were to remember: “And you shall remember… (vs2) how they were humbled and tested (vs 2 and 16) by the Lord, as a Father training his own child (vs 5) in order to teach them that it is He that provides through their clinging to Him and to His commands. So that they might not Forget (vs 11,14,19) and their “hearts be lifted up” in pride (vs 14), and “they say in their hearts”, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth ” (vs 17). Pride, like the nations before them, would lead to their disobedience and destruction (vs 20).
I don’t know about you, but as I consider our nation’s founding and history, I cannot but help see significant parallels to us in our day in this passage and a prophetic warning for our future. Thanksgiving is a unique “American” Christian holiday having its origins in specified days of thanksgiving and prayer, mixed with celebrations of harvest festivals from our colonial past. It was finally “nationalized” as a single governmentally sanctioned holiday during the Civil War and celebrated by Americans ever since. This is a testimony to the sentiment of faithfulness held by our American forefathers. But as I look around, though I yet still see some of the form, I see increasingly less of it and even less of the heart that should accompany it. Like God warned the Hebrews in this passage, because of the “good land” which we have inherited, the “good houses” that we have built, “and all that (we) have is multiplied”, it has followed that we as a nation, in so many ways have,” forgotten” the Lord and gone after other (materialistic) gods to serve them.
But what about us and our children? We do not have to be swept away with this turning of the tide. We can yet “remember” what God has done for us in our own history, as a nation, as a family, and personally. We can yet consider that the benefits we have here today are due to the blessings accrued by many faithful family members and other citizens (forefathers) that have gone before us. We may yet, let these reminders “humble” us in thanksgiving to our good Father for how He has provided so well for us and renew in us a resolve to seek and keep His ways even in the midst of a society that is steadily forgetting and ignoring the source of their own provision. And, we may do so in the hope that our next generations and their children will not forget and might retain the blessings of God in their lives and for posterity. That is the promise of God to faithful parents.
May you and your family thankfully enjoy God’s blessings and the humble remembrance of them this Thanksgiving Season.