It is strangely ironic that Thanksgiving Day is connected to Black Friday in our time. We have all seen the pictures of a store opening its doors and a frantic crowd rushing in, someone almost immediately falling, creating a bottleneck and more chaos.  Now, there is nothing wrong with a good deal or just running with the bulls, I suppose, if you are out for a little adventure. Nevertheless, it does appear to be a picture of self-centeredness in a thanksgiving context.

In our passage the apostle Paul reminds Christians as to the central role of thanksgiving in the Christian life. Thanksgiving is giving something to someone which is due. Paul says Christians are to be “abounding in thanksgiving.” The word for thanksgiving Paul uses means joyful thanks. The word for abounding is the same word used for a river overflowing its banks. It is one of Paul’s favorite words to describe Christian virtues.

If thanksgiving is to be genuine there needs to be a basis for it. Paul has given that in the first chapter of this epistle as he does in most of his letters. He reminds Christians that they have been rescued from the domain of darkness, from death, their own corruption, and given eternal life with God in Christ. The significance of those truths is overwhelming, yet we are so slow to believe that we must labor to be affected as we ought.

In Psalm 30, David ends the psalm this way: “O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” In the psalm David speaks about a close encounter with death. The Lord has rescued him from the “pit.” He had been so near death only the Lord could have delivered him. David didn’t dismiss it as happenchance or think that maybe it wasn’t as bad as he thought at the time. He saw the Lord’s hand in it and was humbly, joyfully thankful.

There isn’t any question if you belong to Christ; it was 100% the power and work of God. None of this did you accomplish or can boast of. Eternal life is completely outside your capacity to do one thing for.  When Paul says we were dead in sin and under the domain of darkness he means absolutely. It makes the question, “What is it you have you didn’t receive?” rhetorical. If a Christian desires to boast about his spiritual state, his only truthful course is to boast in God.

There is great power in the Christian life through thanksgiving. In Ephesians 5, Paul uses this same word for thanksgiving for power against sin (5:1-4). As Christians we haven’t fully recovered from the plague of our sinful nature, so Paul says that in order to put to death malice, bitterness, greed, immorality, idolatry, and other traits of the sinful nature we must exercise thanksgiving.

We may wonder how this can work. The Holy Spirit works in us through faith. The truth begins to shape us. The gospel in the ultimate sense is the only news worth hearing in this world. If you have Christ you will not suffer God’s wrath; if you don’t, you will. Having Christ, if you die you will be made perfect and eternally happy. Therefore, your days on earth are not about you. Sin is basically vanity and self-centeredness. It produces different effects in people. Some people are always mad it seems, others are pleasant but as self-centered as the mad people.

The fact is that only in Christ do we have a hope or future with God. If that truth doesn’t shape you, something else will. If it does, you can give thanks in all circumstances, you can be patient, and you can practice love as God defines it. You can humbly confess your sins; you can be abundantly generous; you can forgive someone, and you can do all things through Christ.

When Paul speaks in Philippians 4 of the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, we sometimes pass over him mentioning the prerequisite for that peace being thanksgiving. If you want to experience the peace of God, you must be thankful. To be truly thankful you must have faith.

The value of salvation will be obvious when we leave this world and when the judgment of the world takes place. The more value Christ is to you here and now, the more thankful you will be.