In "Other" Words...Truly Thankful

“As we express our gratitude,
we must never forget that the highest appreciation
is not to utter words,
but to live by them.”

~John F. Kennedy

The above quote was chosen for this week's In "Other" Words by Tami at The Next Step.  Please visit her to add your own thoughts or to see what others have shared this week.  

The message of the quote above has been hitting me from all directions this week.

From my Sunday morning sermon notes (on Romans 1:21-24):

"Thanklessness is one of the surest marks of a rebellious and unregenerate heart."

In pointing out that "going through the motions is not thankfulness",  Bro. Kent mentioned this prayer from the old Jimmy Stewart movie, "Shenandoah"...

“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eatin’ it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel. But we thank you just the same for this food we’re about to eat. Amen.”

Obviously an intentionally-blatant example of "going through the motions".   They're everywhere.  Just yesterday, a friend sent an email about an apparently well-known actress/comedienne (whom I had never heard of ;-)) who very openly ridiculed Jesus during an Emmy award speech a couple of years ago.  What the actress said was appalling, but what was almost more appalling to me was her description of the intent behind it.  From what I have read about this actress, she makes no pretense about being very anti-Christian.  Her words were grievous, but hardly surprising, considering her beliefs.  However, during the controversy that ensued, she indicated that the comments she made were meant as a satire of celebrities who go on and on thanking Jesus for their awards, especially when they themselves are controversial.  As I read, I couldn't help but understand a bit...to a non-Christian, seeing others whose lives don't show any true fruit of Christianity standing up and "thanking Jesus" for their awards, must seem terribly ridiculous.  Actually, it should seem ridiculous to anyone who stops and thinks about it.  

We encounter more "ordinary" and perhaps less blatant examples of "going through the motions" of giving thanks every day.  People everywhere will this week celebrate "Thanksgiving" without once truly "giving thanks" to the One to whom all thanks is due...the One who created us, gave us life, provided every blessing we experience, and most of all, provided the free gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son.   

Bro. Kent read this verse from Psalm 138 Sunday morning in contrasting true thankfulness with "going through the motions":

"I will give you thanks with all my heart" 

"All my heart".  That is the key, I think, to true thankfulness.  If we are truly thankful with our whole hearts, we will not just be uttering words or going through the motions; our thankfulness will be evident in all that we do. 

This Thanksgiving I want to truly give Him thanks with all my heart.  

Psalm 138
 I will give You thanks with all my heart;
          I will sing praises to You before the gods.

 I will bow down toward Your holy temple
          And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
          For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.

 On the day I called, You answered me;
          You made me bold with strength in my soul.

 All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O L
          When they have heard the words of Your mouth.

 And they will sing of the ways of the L
          For great is the glory of the L

 For though the L
ORD is exalted,
          Yet He regards the lowly,
          But the haughty He knows from afar.

 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
          You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
          And Your right hand will save me.

 The L
ORD will accomplish what concerns me;
          Your lovingkindness, O L
ORD, is everlasting;
          Do not forsake the works of Your hands.


Heather of S-A-M said...

Happy Thanksgiving! First time visitor to your blog. Loved the post!

Debbie said...

People may ridicule believers and followers of Jesus because they often look for hypocrisy. Yes, we are human and still must deal with our flesh this side of eternity but we have the Holy Spirit within us to guide us and lead us. Our part is to surrender and allow Him to lead.

Too often I hear stories like the one you shared. Words are fine but do the actions follow?

Great post on IOWT. Happy Thanksgiving.


Denise Hughes said...

You're so right to point out how many of us, myself included, can easily slip into a mindset of "going through the motions" during the Thanksgiving celebration. I liked this quote too; it stretches us to think beyond just saying what we're thankful for to actually showing how thankful we are. Much here to ponder. Thanks for sharing today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tami Boesiger said...

Ouch. I fear I have gone through the motions too many times in my life.

I pray God is so real in my life my human weaknesses are missed and others can't help but see Him.

Thanks for joining us, Jen, and leaving us with the Truth of His word to dwell on.