Joy in Our Giving Thanks
November is the month that we give thanks--well, at least we used to. But what should we give thanks for? Maybe our health or our wealth or all that we have attained. James has something else in mind.
James 1:2-3 tells us to consider it all joy at the testing of our faith. We should thank God for our trials? James tells us that the testing of our faith results in steadfastness, and if we let steadfastness have its full effect on us so that we may be perfect, we will be complete, lacking nothing. Now that is something to give thanks for, lacking nothing! But this does not mean that we will have every material thing. No, this means that we will have grown spiritually in the things of God, and His wisdom that we will have gained through our trials if we do not doubt will give us victory in that which we have endured and we will receive the crown of life (verses 5-12).
James also tells us in verses 9-10 that we should boast in exaltation in our lowly lifestyle and the rich should boast in their humiliation, because like a flower of the grass that passes away, we are to give thanks to God at whatever financial level we are at because life is short, and we are here today and gone tomorrow. But we struggle with this.
Philippians 4:11-12 tells us that Paul learned a lesson that we too must learn: "I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need." Paul tells us that God has provided for Him and has given him the victory in his circumstances because he had been steadfast and unmovable in his faith toward God, and this has resulted in his victory. His faith has taught him to be content.
Yes, God will provide for us if we come to Him in faith believing that He is able to do all things, but I tell you, God uses people to carry out His will. At this time of the year we may feel in the giving mood, but what happens to that mood when all the glitz of the season ends? Do we once again go after our ambitions and we close the doors to our hearts? People have struggles all year, not just during the season of giving. The lowly should not be so lowly that they have to beg. We who have much, much is required of us (Luke 12:48). We do not live unto ourselves. We live for God, and God requires that we love one another. God requires that we give of ourselves. God requires that we lay down our lives for our brethren.
James 2:1-13 says, "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,' while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,' or, ‘Sit down at my feet,' have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,' also said, ‘Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment."
Yes, we get caught up in our daily lives and we forget, but then there are also times when we plainly rebel against God's word and we allow our prejudices to rise up, and we feel that if we work hard, so should they! We are told in James 1:13-17, "Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
Yes, all we have is because of God, all our blessings come from Him, even our ability to work and to get financially ahead. So let us give cheerfully, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). And with the measure that we give, it will be given back to us (Luke 6:38). Let us give thanks to God today and everyday, and let us show how thankful we are by being people who give from the heart, as our Father gave when He so loved us that He gave his only begotten Son to die for us when we were still enemies to Him; and let us be people who are thankful, even in our trials, knowing that God loves us. He already proved that on the cross, so let us increase in love, always giving thanks.
Happy giving with thanks unto God!