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Thanksgiving Is an Attitude

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Thanksgiving is an attitude.

We talk about being thankful for what we have, and so we should. But it seems the more we possess, the more we drift toward thanking ourselves.

Thousands of years ago, Moses warned the Israelites of this when he said,

"Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God. ... Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied [do you like a good meal?], when you build fine houses [how much is your's worth?] and settle down [then get complacent], and when your herds and flocks grow large [we love when business is good] and your silver and gold increase [gotta build that investment portfolio] and all you have is multiplied [and we've attained the American Dream], then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God [oh, how easily this happens], who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery [and we forget what God saved us from]" ( NIV, [Commentary mine]).

Moses also noted in the next two verses how God led Israel "through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions [what trials has God led you through?]." And there he provided them with manna to eat, just as he provides for us now. ( NIV)

Moses foresaw that after they enter the Promised Land, they would eventually produce lots of food, nice houses, and wealth. Just like us. So he said,

"You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant ..." ( NIV).

Thankfulness for the ability to get what we have.

Centuries later, the prophet Hosea spoke for God when he said,

When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me" ( NIV).

Now, centuries after Hosea, you and I still see it everywhere we look.

Thankfulness is an attitude we choose. The more we have, the harder thankfulness tends to be; and the more likely we forget God. Because all the stuff dominates our attention: We have to pay for it. We have to take care of it. We have to ensure it. We hope nothing goes wrong with it. And we fall in love with it.

Unless we're careful, we'll slip into the common mindset of: "How much is enough? Just a little bit more." And instead of being thankful, we'll dash off to the shopping malls for more stuff on Black Friday. But that's not enough. Now we need to do it on Thursday. And the scoundrels in the National Association of Retailers who invented Black Friday have now given Thanksgiving Day itself a new name: "Grey Thursday." After all, we have to undercut Cyber Monday.

The vocabulary expresses the consumer insanity that Moses and Hosea—that God himself—decried.

Anyone who's thinking will see the con games going on with retailers chasing money and materialists chasing more stuff. Both those pursuits rise from chosen attitudes.

Thanksgiving is equally an attitude of choice. When we're thankful, we can feel happy because we focus on what we have rather than what we don't. We feel peaceful and satisfied because we realize how much we have—more than we may have thought. We feel free because we realize we don't really need all the stuff we're tempted with, which in turn helps free us from debt. And for all of that, we can be thankful.

Thankfulness is like a light in a dark world.

Be a light. The world needs you.

Lord, may I always carry the attitude of a poor and grateful person. Keep me from the self-deceit of complacency, presumption or pride because of what I have. May I always—always—find my richness in God.

Copyright © 2014, Peter Lundell. Used by permission.

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About The Author

Image of Peter Lundell

With a pastor’s heart, Peter Lundell connects people and their life issues to a real God so they can live well in the face of eternity. With a quarter century of missionary, pastoral, and teaching experience, he brings new perspectives to interacting with God that most people overlook. He holds an M.Div. and D.Miss. from Fuller Theological Seminary and resides in Southern California. He authors books on Christian spirituality. Visit him at

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