Thanksgiving has come and gone as a holiday with the craziness of the Christmas season now in full force upon us. However, we need to retain the essence of Thanksgiving and not allow it to be a once-a-year event but rather the beginning or refreshing of a daily ritual to be aware of who God made us to be and His gifts we were given. The joy of Thanksgiving is not just for us, but rather it is for our spirit.
Thanksgiving is intentional, not accidental. We must establish a deliberate set of thoughts and actions to recognize our gifts. Maybe God gave the gift of patience or listening or being feisty or having a sense of humor and for that gift, we should be thankful. He gave us that gift to be used inside of His unique plan for our lives.
Start recognizing the gifts that we have been given and the meaning for them. We were made unique for a unique job, and we will need those gifts. Maybe to us it’s not a glamorous job, but to Him it is everything. We cannot do the job that someone else does as we do not have their gifts; but someone else cannot do ours, either.
Martin Luther King has a great quote on this subject: “But you know in life we’re called upon to do things. A Ford car trying to be a Cadillac is absurd, but if a Ford will accept itself as a Ford, it can do many things that a Cadillac could never do: it can get in parking spaces that a Cadillac can never get in. And in life some of us are Fords and some of us are Cadillacs.”
Comparison is actually the “anti-Thanksgiving.” Comparison will always make us think that what others are doing and receiving is taking away from us. Some people spend too much on clothes, cars, houses all in the cause of comparison. By comparing, we are making a statement: “Who I am and what I have are not enough.” We are making others our benchmark, not ourselves, our blessings, or our gifts. God did not create us to live our lives equated to others but rather to live it with Him in our heart and head.
Comparison leads to ‘scarcity mentality’ when we should practice an ‘abundance mentality.’ Life is not a win-lose game, there is enough of His abundance that we are all winners. If we are thankful for what God has given us and for the blessings in our lives, we leave behind being wantful and become powerful.
When King Saul and David came back from battle and the women of the village were singing, “Saul killed a 1,000, but David killed 10,000,” Saul started to compare and judge. He compared how much more the women adored David. At that moment Saul started to despise David, not for who David was but rather for how much more David was loved by others. Saul relied on the praise of man (and in this case, women) to affirm his heart, so when David received more praise it really bothered Saul.
We did an FCA Huddle lesson on the “er” complex. It really hits hard with High School students. The “er” complex is around who is prettier, skinnier, wealthier, funnier, hipper, faster, stronger, etc. They are at the age where peer pressure is important and benchmarking themselves against others is a common everyday experience. The lesson stressed that He didn’t create us, love us and die for us so that we would waste our precious time looking around man’s world to determine whether we are “good enough”. We are enough because of Him.
Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is a short, odd letter. It primarily focuses upon the relationship between Paul and the Corinthians, not doctrinal teachings. In Chapter 10:12 Paul says, “Not that we dare to class or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” There were not yet many spiritually strong people among the Corinthian Christians for a good comparison and that measurement was on a human scale, not what was important. Life is not a competition. It’s a journey. And love moves that journey forward. It’s love that lifts others and considers them “better”. A love that serves and sacrifices, rather than clamoring to prove ourselves. Let us have a thankfulness for what we have as opposed to looking at what we don’t have. God gave us what we need to live the life he has in mind for us. Let us be grateful. Practicing grateful thinking on a regular basis enhances well-being and is incompatible with negative emotions and reduces feelings of envy, anger, or greed.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie, one of America’s most beloved self-help authors focused on addiction and recovery circles.
Let us be intentional and create a deliberate daily ritual to be aware of who God made us to be and retain the joy of Thanksgiving every day. When we let the Holy Spirit measure us on God’s scale, He looks at our heart. Let our hearts be full of love and gratitude.