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Thanksgiving Pharisees

It is that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the rainbow colored leaves are falling to the ground, and the days are comfortably cool. There is just something about the fall of the year that people love.

This time is also synonymous with giving thanks. We even have a holiday based on giving thanks. It is literally called Thanksgiving Day, which leaves no question in what it is supposed to be about. Personally, I think it funny that we have a day that is supposed to about being thankful for what we have; but then the very next day is about trying to acquire the things we don't. Nevertheless, who does not like Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? I know I am thankful for them. (Bad pun intended)

Furthermore, because this time of the year is about giving thanks, people from all walks of life will start to share what they are thankful for. Some will say they are thankful for their family and friends, while others may be thankful for their jobs. Some will even make jokes about being thankful for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. A more common trend is that people try to name at least one thing each day in November that they are thankful for.

I do not know about you, but every year my Facebook feed is filled with "I am thankful for" and "I would like to thank God for" posts. Television and radios are much the same, as a commercial onslaught of thankfulness is seen throughout November. Even our church services often have more testimonies being shared during this season of thanks. Even though these acts of thankfulness are good; I want us to ask ourselves why.

Why? Why are people saying they are thankful? Why are people speaking on the importance of being thankful? Why are we even saying "I thank God for"? Why are there so many beautiful comments of thankfulness only during this one time of the year?

Let me make this perfectly clear, I am glad to hear tidings of thanksgiving, and there is nothing inherently wrong in doing such things. Nevertheless, maybe I am the Grinch of Thanksgiving, but I must admit, I wonder if we have become Thanksgiving Pharisees. Please forgive me, if the past sentence insulted you, that is not my intent. However, I do ask that you continue reading, and know I speak only in love.

Thanksgiving Pharisees

During the days of Christ, there were two ruling political and religious groups in the Jewish community. First was the Sadducees and the other was the Pharisees. The Pharisees were actually Christ's greatest detractors and were constantly trying to disprove him. The Pharisees were also a group that was dogmatic in observing tradition. They were constantly showing outward works, and claimed that their works meant they were special and God's chosen people. The best examples of how the Pharisees acted are found in the following verses:

Luke 18:10-13

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Pharisees, in short, were narcissistic and only showed an outward appearance of Godly servitude and thanksgiving. They were only interested in performing customs and less about living a Godly life. Jesus said it best in the following verses:

Mark 7:6-9

He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Are people today not the same? We honor God with thanksgiving during this time of the year, because it is tradition. We honor God with thanks on Facebook and Twitter because it is trendy and we want our status to be liked. We honor God with thanks on television and radio because it sells the Butterball Turkey and the fall decorations. We honor God with thanks in church because we call ourselves Christians and we are obligated to do so.

By doing this, we have become a society of Thanksgiving Pharisees. It is as if we only thank God because it is traditional to do so, and we want approval of our actions. So the question that you need to ask yourself now is this: How do we become Thanksgiving Christians?

Thanksgiving Christians

You may have heard this before, "We should have thanksgiving year round, and not just on Thanksgiving". If you have not heard those words, you may have heard something similar. There is a powerful truth to those words, however, I feel that we have heard that statement so much that it has lost its true meaning.

The Oxford dictionary defines thanksgiving as "the expression of gratitude, especially to God". Now this does not seem all that interesting at first until we define the word expression. Expression is defined as "the action of making known one's thoughts or feelings." Knowing this we can say the following:

Thanksgiving is the action of making known one's gratitude, especially to God.

In other words, thanksgiving should not just be verbal, but an active duty. Furthermore, we should have an active duty of thanksgiving year round. Basically, let our actions speak louder than our words.

Are you thankful for your children? If so, you need hug them, kiss them and tell them you love them everyday. You need to discipline them as needed and teach them right from wrong. You need to teach them of God and how to serve him. You need to make them your world and make sure you are a part of theirs.

Are you thankful for your spouse? If so, you need to hug them, kiss them and tell them you love them everyday. You need to be willing to let someone else watch the children and spend time together on a date. You need to be willing to agree to disagree and not let a disagreement create anger between you. If anger does come between you, you both need to take it to God and let him help you. You need to go together to church as a couple and serve God together.

Are you thankful for your parents? If so, hug them, kiss them and tell them you love them everyday. If you cannot do that due to distance, then call them as often as possible and make sure they know you love them. You need to be willing to be with them and be a part of their life. As you grow older, you need to have a friendship with them, but still respect their position as your parent. Follow the good things they taught you and avoid the things they may have done wrong. Most importantly serve God together.

Are you thankful for friends? Then lead them to Christ and serve the Lord together. Are you thankful for your job? Then do your very best and make sure people see a Christlike spirit in you. Are you thankful for anything? Then don't just say you are thankful, show it. However, a word of warning:

Matthew 6: 1-2

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

In short, as show your thankfulness, make sure you are not just showing off to impress others. Let your actions be done in true love, and in the purity of spirit. By doing so, your actions will express your heart, and in doing it will blessed by God.

True Thankfulness

So in summation, thankfulness is not something that can be merely posted on Facebook, shown once a year on a special day, or even expressed as a testimony in church. True thankfulness is expressed in our daily actions and the life we live. More importantly, if we are truly thankful to God for what he he has done for us, we should be willing to serve him not only in word, but in our actions and our hearts.

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