Since Mr. Trump’s election, we seem to have been in the midst of an escalating shouting match about any number of things, including income inequality and capitalism. That’s why I’m glad Thanksgiving falls on the heels of the election. It gives Christians an opening to speak into the discord, if we will.
Thanksgiving, at least for Christians, should remind us that what we have ultimately comes from God. If what we have is simply a quid pro quo, a wage given for work done and nothing more, then there is no need to give thanks. We have what we earned; there is no thanksgiving in that.
But humanism has become so ingrained in our collective thinking—including the thinking of many Christians—we think that what we have earned is all because of us, our sufficiency, our effort. “The rich” (whatever that means) think that justifies complaining about the covetousness of the income inequality crowd, and, of course, the income inequality crowd feels justified in complaining about what it sees as the greed of the rich.
What we can all forget is the fact that it is God who has given us the health and strength that allows us to work and the abilities that have led to our employment. Moses put it this way: “And you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18a NKJV).
When we complain about income inequality or, in general, our station in life and what we possess, we need to realize that we are really complaining against God and His provision. We must be careful not to despise what we have and embark down the path of covetousness.
On the other hand—and lest we point an accusing finger at the covetous attitude of the income equality crowd and think ourselves more righteous than they—let’s remember the second part of what Moses said. That same verse ends with “that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18b NKJV).
In other words, wealth is given not for our luxurious comforts, but it is given that we might be used of God to advance His covenant purposes in the world. To appropriate what is God’s for selfish purposes is really a form of coveting, too—it is wanting for ourselves that which belongs to God.
This does not mean that we cannot seek to improve our skills or employment situation, nor does it mean that we cannot enjoy some of the blessings that come from wealth, but it does mean that if it is the “love of money” that propels us in either direction, we may find at some point that we have “pierced [ourselves] through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV).
Thanksgiving is a great time for the church to speak to the real change that needs to take place in our collective economic thinking—on both sides of the aisle—and the change is to put God above the economic idols so easily reflected in our thinking. In some churches, the pulpit is used to condemn the one side or the other when we need to speak to the wrong attitude that is often on both sides. Of course, some pulpits don’t speak to either side, because, well, that’s “political.”
I mention all of this because God has been speaking to me about it. My attitude isn’t always one of thanksgiving, either.
So, I invite you to join me this Thanksgiving by putting whatever we have, whether little or much, on the table today and giving genuine thanks to God for it.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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