Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. has me wondering this year how our attitude toward thanking God for what we have relates to several sundry items which have had my attention recently.
First, Paul writes in the New Testament, in his letter to the church at Philippi, that we ought to make our reasonableness conspicuously public. He also tells us not to be anxious. Instead, we should think about whatever things are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and praiseworthy, and present all our requests to God, with prayer and thanksgiving.
I think if we would do that more, on Thanksgiving, but all other days as well, the Overton window would much more closely align with what is true, beautiful, and good.
The Biblical pattern is not to reason from top to bottom, humanly speaking, except where God’s character and revealed will inform our reality. On the contrary, our efforts and experience, and how we work, are from the ground up. From the dust we were made. To the dust we will return. We are finite creatures.
This is also to say, I think, that we find the Biblical pattern is parochialism. Faithfulness starts with little things, then grows up into bigger things. Only after fidelity and competence are established with more trivial matters are we entrusted with bigger and brighter things.
Thus also I think we could say that the Biblical pattern is very conservative in that way.
When I say that, I am also thinking here of Paul in the New Testament, writing to the church at Thessalonica, telling the brothers and sisters there to aspire live quiet lives, minding their own business, working with their hands. He did not leave unspoken his reasons, which were to the end of having a good testimony with non-Christians, and also being materially independent.
This is the best definition of the saying “all politics is local” I’ve come across to-date, by the way. Mind your business. Live a quiet life. Be dependent on no one, even as you demonstrate your own charitable and dependable nature.
Some will doubtless accuse me, on this point, of trying to immanentize the eschaton, or spiritualize conservatism. The latter charge is just backwards, but for the former I would direct attention to better candidates for that charge — like the Woke, transhumanists, and Democrats generally.
This is not a “I know you are, but what am I” redirection, though. Rest assured that I am not trying to bring about heaven on earth. I just think we would be living better in light of eternity, and what God has revealed in His Word, if we were applying the truth of God’s Word to the problem of decreased labor participation among able-bodied men in America by getting at the particularities and specific factors which have apparently disincentivized men from gainful employment while at the same time encouraging other pursuits which are unprofitable.
Similarly, I am certain there is a root we as Christians could also testify to in the findings of the Hebrew University study, which found that male sperm counts around the world have dropped 51% since 1973, and that the drop is accelerating at a rate of 2.6% per year since the year 2000.
So also, God is not silent on problems like the one recently reported on in an American literature course at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, where juniors were given a very rudimentary assignment on Goldilocks and the three bears. And I personally think high school students being taught 3rd grade lessons bears consideration for what it says about the state of the typical American father’s parental instincts and habits.
But how this all relates to Thanksgiving is that we surely must believe the good gifts we have in life are actually from God in order to thank Him for them. Otherwise, we might as well call this ‘Turkey Day,’ like others do. And “Thanks For Nothing Day” would be more honest for too many. We must not think these ways.
Indeed, as the Almighty promises in Psalms 50:23, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
At least a part of the reason this is true has to do with natural consequences. What we thank God for, we will also simultaneously remind ourselves and one another is a gift from Him, given to us on-purpose, presumably to be used in ways that honor Him and those around us. That is, what we are thankful for we will also endeavor to be good stewards and investors of rather than squandering.
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