British author Charles Dickens once criticized our American Thanksgiving. He advised us to have 364 days of thanksgiving instead of just one. He said, “Use that one day for complaining and griping. Use the other 364 days to thank God each day for the many blessing he has showered upon you.”
Imagine coming home to find out your home has been repossessed and your bank accounts have been frozen. The police are confiscating your vehicles. This is all because you attend an “unregistered” church. Or perhaps because your Christian beliefs about marriage are considered hate crimes. This form of persecution — the loss of property — happened to the first readers of Hebrews. It may happen again soon. But according to Hebrews 10:36 those Christians “…took joyfully the spoiling of [their] goods….” They found contentment even when they lost their possessions.
The Bible shows how we can have this contentment every day. Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Your “conversation” is your conduct and your character. It is who you are every day of the year, not just on Thanksgiving. Who you are is merely a reflection of the thoughts of your heart. The phrase “without covetousness” addresses your heart. It literally means not loving money. Money in itself is neither good nor bad, but the love of money leads to danger. Your attitude towards money affects your thanksgiving.
It is hard to “…be content with such things as ye have” when what you have is taken away. Our society makes us think that’s not possible. Media advertisements constantly disrupt our satisfaction. You need the 2019 truck model just coming out. You can’t live without the next generation iPhone. The Bible tells us satisfaction does not depend on what we have.
What does it depend on? The verse continues, “for he hath said I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Living your thanksgiving is made possible by believing what God said. We know what God said because He has recorded His words in the Bible. The purpose of His written word is clearly stated in John 20:31: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
We do not naturally have eternal life coming to us. Because of our sin against God, eternal death is coming. Hell is a place of eternal punishment for sinners who reject Jesus Christ. Avoiding Hell is possible by believing the promise of God by Jesus Christ.
Eternal life is more than an insurance policy. It includes the privilege of being children of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). If you are a true child of God, He has promised never to abandon you. You may feel like God has let you go when your health fails, or when you don’t have enough money, or when you get rejected. But it only looks that way. He has not really forsaken you. He will never, ever forsake His children.
In 1863, President Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official nationwide holiday in November. Ever since, each president has issued a formal proclamation of Thanksgiving for America. Even recent presidents such as Clinton, Bush, and Obama have made these proclamations. President Trump has followed this tradition. But the presidential speech writer will not offer you his services. God wants you to make a personal thanksgiving proclamation. It is a result of your belief in God’s promise — “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
We live our thanksgiving when we boldly declare our dependence and confidence in the Lord. Perhaps you are a believer. Does anyone around you know? Speak up about your faith as your family gathers this holiday. Don’t be ashamed at school or work to let others know about God. And most of all, gather with God’s people to worship and encourage others with your testimony of thanks.
Stephen Howard is Pastor of Morrow Bible Church, morrowbiblechurch.org