A friend recently asked me if its ok for Christians to celebrate Thankgiving. I decide to research more about the holiday to answer my friend’s question. This blog post entails what I discovered.
Should Christians celebrate Thanksgiving? Yes, Christians should celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a time to thank God for the blessings in our life. Celebrating Thanksgiving and declaring what we are thankful for shows God our adoration for Him.
Thanksgiving is an exciting time to be with family and eat comfort food, and of course, say a couple of things you are thankful for. Let’s start by looking into the history of Thanksgiving.
History Of Thanksgiving
The first Thanksgiving in America was when a group of Pilgrims and Indians gave thanks together after a hard year.
When the Pilgrims first arrived in the new land, America, they had many troubles. They were helped by those native to the land, and after having a plentiful harvest they celebrated and had a feast.
They thanked God for their blessings.
This happened around November 1621, and the amazing thing is that we still celebrate it today. The pilgrims continually thanked the Lord and set aside a day for it.
The Pilgrim’s did not have an easy beginning to their settlement, and about half died before they were able to figure out how to live off the land.
Hearing their story of overcoming and praising God when they did receive an abundance of food should inspire us today to give thanks even in difficult situations.
We love to hear stories of those who did something amazing despite their circumstance and that is what the day of Thanksgiving was to the pilgrims.
The Pilgrims when they started giving thanks, may not have picked a consistent day like we have today, but they did want a day that was set apart.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday.
You can find out more about the difference in the article Holiday Vs. Holy Day: Origins, Meaning, and Differences.
The basic premise of Thanksgiving is to give thanks for what we have. It used to be seen as a time to thank God for his blessings in our lives, and now it is a time to enjoy the abundance of food and family.
How Christians Should Respond To The Cultural View Of Thanksgiving
Today Thanksgiving is marked by many events and certain popular traditions. Some are based on the origins of thanksgiving, and others have come into practice throughout the years because of the culture and other various influences.
Thanksgiving & Food
Food from the beginning is a large part of celebrating Thanksgiving. Many traditional Thanksgiving meals today include a turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, and more.
Many people take Thanksgiving day as a day to pig out and eat more than normal. While enjoying food and the blessings in life, we need to make sure we are being good stewards of what we have and how we treat our bodies.
Overeating is not being good stewards of our bodies. We shouldn’t eat more than our bodies need.
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.Romans 13:14
This is not to say you can’t enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, just don’t overeat.
Thanksgiving & Football
Football games have become another important mark of Thanksgiving day. After enjoying more than enough food it is time for the average American to settle down and watch a football game.
Football games can be a great time to get together and enjoy entertainment with friends and family. Even spending time with friends and family while watching a game can be a blessing, but only if you are intentional with the time.
Don’t let something like a football game be the focus of your day, instead focus on your friends and family, and take intentional time to thank God.
Thanksgiving & Black Friday
Black Friday shopping is the day after Thanksgiving but has slowly bled into thanksgiving day. Deals start earlier and earlier each year so that deals and long lines start on Thanksgiving Day.
The immense shopping that happens on Black Friday can remind us as Americans of our consumerism, and we can sometimes even value things over the people in our lives. This happens when spending time with people is cut short by shopping and priorities are out of wack because of amazing sales.
Thanksgiving as Christians should be a time to be thankful for the blessing from God and time with friends and family, not a time to get more and more stuff.
Sharing what your thankful for is also very important and a big part of Thanksgiving. Like in the name of the holiday, it was created for and used as a time to be thankful for the friends and family around you.
Sharing what you are thankful for is a great Thanksgiving tradition that helps carry on the name of Thanksgiving. This day is a time to remember what we can be thankful for.
As Christians, we want to make sure to thank God for the many blessings in our lives, but also be aware that this should not be a once-a-year occurrence, but a daily habit.
Many people spend their Thanksgiving with family or friends. Thanksgiving is known for a time where friends and family join together to enjoy the blessings of life.
Friends and family are an amazing blessing from God. We were created to live in community and friends and family can be the closest communities in our life.
Spending the day with those you are closest to helps remind us all that we have to be thankful for. When with friends and family we can feel blessed and that reminds us of God who blesses us in many ways.
Genuine thankfulness is an act of the heart’s affections, not an act of the lips’ muscles.John Piper
How To Approach Thanksgiving As A Christian
Approaching Thanksgiving as a Christian should carry more weight for us. We not only get to just be thankful generally for material things but thankful to God for the many spiritual blessings in our life.
Thanksgiving can be the perfect day for Christians to set aside to be thankful. Praise God for all He has done for you. Give Him honor.
If Thanksgiving is often just about food and football for you, consider volunteering in your community. You could donate to a local food shelf or help serve food at a homeless shelter.
Apperciate Your Family & Friends
Being with family and friends happens a lot around the holiday season, so take advantage of the time and give thanks to God for them, and enjoy your time with them.
Make sure to also express your thankfulness for the people in your life and let them know how much they mean to you.
One idea to incorporate into your Thanksgiving celebration is having communion. This reminds us of what Jesus did on the cross.
As you prepare for Thanksgiving approach the day with a larger focus on giving thanks and less on the materialistic attractions that the world celebrates. We can glorify God through Thanksgiving.
A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart.Charles Finney
Scripture About Being Thankful
The Bible tells us to be thankful. These verses should encourage us to give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day, but also to give thanks to God every day.
The Old and the New Testament strongly emphasis coming to God with our needs, but they also encourage us to give thanks to God always because of all he has done for us.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!Psalm 100:4
Our posture when we come to God should be one of praise. Thanksgiving for who God is and all he has done should not be forgotten.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It is amazing that even in some of the most difficult circumstances we can be thankful in Christ. Holidays are not always the most wonderful time of the year for those who have lost family and friends, but because of Jesus, we can give thanks.
It is amazing to see Paul the apostle’s attitude on being thankful even in the midst of trials.
Paul did not have an easy life and was imprisoned and eventually killed for his faith, he said that he was able to be content in all situations because he knew that through Christ he would have the strength.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13
When reading through Paul’s letters we see again and again that Paul mentions being thankful, or that he is giving thanks. This is the attitude we should have because we have confidence that God is working through our life.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.Colossians 4:2
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.Philippians 4:6
Many times thanksgiving is partnered with prayer, while we are making our requests known to God, and talking to our heavenly Father, we also should come being thankful.
Throughout the Bible, we also read about the many reasons that we should be thankful.
We are reminded throughout scripture all that God has done for us, and exactly why our hearts should be filled with thanks.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.Hebrews 12:28,29
We can be thankful for the unshakable kingdom of God, unlike the world around us, we have hope in a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.2 Corinthians 2:14
The victory that we have in the triumph of Jesus over the grave, makes us as Christians triumphant. Not only are we victorious, but he has chosen to use us to share the good news throughout the world. We can be exceedingly grateful that He has saved us and chosen us.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.Psalm 107:8,9
Thanksgiving Day sets a day aside for us to give thanks to God.