It’s Thanksgiving season. We are supposed to be thankful for many reasons: life, love, the ability to communicate the gospel, and opportunities to engage in showing justice and promoting peace. We are to be thankful for life. We have one more day to love and be loved than we did yesterday. We have been given another opportunity to share the gospel, to work for justice and peace. Thank the Lord for neighbors, family, and friends. Thank him for his grace and truth. I’m grateful for Jesus’ promise to always be with us, to be our God, and to give us salvation. There are many blessings to be thankful for every day of the year.
Yet there are some details in life that I am discontent about. I am not thankful for war, arguments, lying, and one-upmanship. It is amazing to me how much of this happens in all walks of life. From Washington to our own cities and towns, there are many who disagree about meaningless stuff and I’m not happy about this fact.
I am not content with the fact that I focus on myself more than I focus on others. Maybe you don’t have this problem, but I do. It could be in a conversation. It could show up in line on Black Friday. It may even show up in what we corporately focus on as a local church. It’s normal. So, I would like to be abnormal in this area of life. In fact, to start the journey, my daughter and I have signed up to be Salvation Army Red Bucket bell ringers at a local Wal-Mart in December. It’s a start.
To quote one of our local church pastors, I need to be content with what I have and discontent with what I give. Most of us (not all) have quite a bit. And we keep piling on the “stuff” of life each and every year. We have Christmas “get” lists that surface this time of year. Have you ever made a Christmas “give” list? I remember praying and talking as a household many holiday seasons to determine what we would give to a family who needed a little boost at Christmastime. Actually, it is a point of view in the way you look at things and others throughout every day of the year. Are you a “getter” or a “giver?”
The more I live, the more I become discontent with doing little for whom Jesus described as the “least of these.” He wasn’t looking down on them. Rather, Jesus continues to ask us today if there are others we could help who didn’t have it as easy as we might. Thankfully, I’ve lived around some very generous people. They genuinely share life with everyone, no matter what. Sure, it’s difficult to determine who needs our help. But I’ve always taught and tried to live that we should live on the side of grace and give generously.
I was around some generous, thankful folks recently. We gathered for an annual Thanksgiving feast at The Wesleyan Church Headquarters. It is the one time of year we gather formally to thank the Lord and all employees. But the focus is not only on “us.” An offering was received by our HQ personnel that raised over $3,000 to be used for this year’s Christmas outreach events through our Wesleyan Native Ministries in South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Arizona.
Give thanks! Become discontent in the right way, about the right things while giving the Lord thanks in all seasons of life.
Jim Dunn is executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship for The Wesleyan Church.