Alright! December is here! The turkeys and pies and parades and football were great for Thanksgiving, but now Christmas month has arrived! Churches enjoyed their little Thanksgiving service, but now we can focus on Christmas pageants and cantatas! We are done with Thanksgiving and on to a bigger and better holiday! This often seems to be our attitude as we approach Christmas. Indeed, the incarnation of Christ must not be minimized. It cannot be over-celebrated. However, can we brush aside thankfulness as if we have done our quota of being thankful for the season? Of course not. With this in mind, December is the perfect time to make sure that we are living a life of gratitude.
Ephesians 5 mentions thankfulness in a very interesting context. The beginning of the chapter says to follow God and to walk in love. Then it says to abstain from fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish speech, and crude joking. Such things are not appropriate. Rather, they should be replaced with giving of thanks (according to verse 5). In other words, the remedy for wrong thoughts, actions, and wrong words is to develop a lifestyle of gratitude. As we maintain an attitude of gratefulness to the Lord for the new life He has given, we cannot live for self. As we praise the Lord for what He has done, we cannot be crude. This attitude of gratitude is contrasted from the unsaved who are whoremongers, unclean, covetous, and idolaters. So, if we fail to be thankful, are we associated with ungodly people? This sounds like what Paul wrote in Romans 1:21 that unregenerate reprobates did not glorify God “as God, neither were thankful.” These people “did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” Thankfulness is not merely counting our blessings on a holiday. It is not merely telling Him thanks for this or for that during our prayers. Thankfulness is recognizing who God is and what He has done and how I owe all to Him. It is in all my ways acknowledging Him.
Ephesians 5:13-21 discusses living for God. Walking circumspectly, redeeming the time, knowing God’s will, being filled with the Spirit, worshipping God, and submitting to others are all in the same context as being thankful. Our thankfulness is not just to be a listing of things we are happy about. Rather thankfulness is a humble attitude of knowing God, and worshipping Him for His goodness and letting Him guide us. This gratitude attitude should never end. Verse 20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In order to abstain from worldliness, let’s be thankful. As we worship the Lord and submit to Him and to others, let’s be thankful. It certainly is far better to be humbly grateful than to be grumbly hateful!