True Gratitude

We have a lot to be thankful for, eh?

Unfortunately, sometimes, I choose guilt instead of gratitude. I know that I have many possessions and privileges that others don’t: more clothes than I can keep track of, the security of knowing that I will get enough to eat each day, clean water to use for a slew of purposes, the opportunity for education…I could fill up this entire blog post listing things, people, and opportunities that I am thankful for.

But how can I reconcile my reality with the reality of a larger percentage of the world–with all the people who have far less “stuff”? Why was I born here? Why do I have too much to eat while others are starving? How can I justify buying my 10th pair of shoes when some people have none?

Sometimes, when I am overwhelmed by these questions, my response is to push them under my bed (ah! One more thing I have that so many people don’t!) and move on with my day. It’s easier to ignore the questions and the guilt…easier, but maybe not necessarily the path of faithfulness.

I don’t know why God places us in the families, cultures, countries, and continents that He does. I don’t understand the disparities in wealth, the unjust systems, and the corrupt governments. But Jesus does not ask me to be guilty; he asks me to be grateful and to be extravagantly generous. He asks me to use my possessions and wealth to further the Kingdom; to serve God, not money (check out Luke 16, a pretty challenging group of passages). He asks me to give away my coat if I have two (Luke 3:11). [If I’m honest, I have 4 coats. so if you’re annoyed by my preachy writing, be comforted by the fact that I’m wrestling through all this as well] He asks me to live radically different than the culture around me (Romans 12). He asks me to worship and obey the one true God, and refuse to worship the idol of consumerism (Exodus 20:3)

My challenge to you this Thanksgiving is to seek to be truly grateful, not guilty, and to ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of ways that you have served the master of wealth. Be forewarned: if you listen closely, God may ask you to give something up that you love, or to change a pattern in your life that dishonors Him. The true walk of faith requires sacrifice. But oh, friends, it is worth it. God is good.

And as we head into the holiday season, consider celebrating with a little less, or choosing to give away what could be yours. Mennonite Central Committee ( provides an avenue for you to give a sustainable gift for Christmas, like pipes to irrigate a field or vaccines to keep a goat healthy. Visit their website and check out the “Christmas giving catalog”. Ask God to give you a genuine desire to give, not a motivation of condemnation or guilt.

Ultimately, my words are few and not perfectly written…and the messages of consumerism are abundant and carefully crafted. BUT, we serve a most powerful God. I have explored and studied and spent time in His presence, and have found that he demands my ultimate allegiance and leads me away from consumerism. I don’t expect you to take my word for it–explore Him yourself. He is sweeter than pumpkin pie and more filling than the largest turkey (sorry, I had to make at least one cheeseball Thanksgiving reference). Happy Thanksgiving, Messiah College! May we celebrate this year with true gratitude.

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