Illustration of Trump and a colonial family Thanksgiving

Will Trump’s Election Bring About Real Thanksgiving?

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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Thanksgiving table

Becoming a More Thankful Person, a Thanksgiving Day Reflection

As I think about today, I ask myself this question: “What is Thanksgiving for?”

For some, it is simply a break from work. For others, it is a time to gather with friends or family or both, to enjoy one another’s company and our favorite foods, and to give thanks for the many blessings we’ve enjoyed.

Thanksgiving encompasses all of those things, but for me it is most important because it serves as a reminder to be a thankful person.

I am not by nature a thankful person, unless you consider acknowledging all the things that, in my opinion, have gone “right” as being truly thankful. I confess that my nature is to believe that you get what you deserve and what you earn and that there is no praise in people doing what they were supposed to do in the first place. For example, when I was an young lawyer working for a law firm, I didn’t think of thanking my clients and my law firm for my paycheck every month; I sure didn’t think about thanking God for my employment and for those clients every payday. I had done the work, and in exchange for it, I was to get paid.

Maybe I’m the only person in the world that tends to think that way. But I don’t think so, because the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:15 commands us to “be thankful.”

The more sobering thought for me this Thanksgiving is found in Romans Chapter 1 where we read of those who are depraved and we are told that their depravity began with denying God and becoming unthankful (v. 21).

It hurts me to say this, in view of my confessed natural tendency, but I believe there is a connection between the vitality of my relationship with God and my understanding of who He is and the thankfulness of my heart. The better I understand the awesome power of the sovereign God and His glory and contemplate the love He has for me from which no number of bad things, including death, can separate me, the more I realize I can’t be anything but a thankful person.

So my desire this Thanksgiving is not just to give thanks, but to become more of a thankful person—not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day.

And that is my prayer for you as well, that no matter where you are on the thankful person scale, you will become a more thankful person because you know God and His love for you a little bit better every day.

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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spiral-bound notebook page with handwritten "I'm thankful for:"

Thankful for…everything!

I was talking to a new friend the other day and the matter of thankfulness came up. It was a thought-provoking conversation. And certainly an appropriate one in view of Thanksgiving tomorrow. I hope you’ll find my thoughts from that conversation helpful as you celebrate Thanksgiving.

The gist of the conversation was that our hearts not only can but will become hardened when we cease to be thankful. And true thankfulness does not come about if we see all that we’re blessed with as the fruit of our labor (our “investment” in relationships, activities or work). In that case, what we “receive” is what we are due.

True thankfulness comes when we recognize that that which we have received is a gift, it is not what we are “due,” and it is not anything we had a right to “claim.”

So, on this eve of Thanksgiving, what am I thankful for?

Well, upon reflection, the real answer should be everything. And why? Because the bottom line reality is that everything is a gift, nothing is due me, and I have no claim of “right” to anything because the very breath that allows me to receive anything good is itself a gift. A gift from God.

After all, which of us can ensure our next breath? None of us. This is a reality that Job, in part through his affliction, learned: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

So, if I take that thought seriously, for me Thanksgiving means that I am thankful for:

  • each day as it gives me opportunity to fulfill the purpose for which God put me here on earth (Colossians 4:17; I Peter 4:10),
  • each challenge for, if I will be open to it, challenges provide an opportunity to become more like Jesus who through what he suffered learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8),
  • the harsh words often hurled at me by those who don’t like my politics because they either make me think hard about whether what I did was right, leading to needed correction, or remind me that those against whom evil is spoken falsely for Christ’s sake have a future reward not worthy to be compared to the reward of man’s praise on earth (Proverbs 15:32; Matthew 5:11,12),
  • the opportunity to do what I do, to wake up every morning and enjoy what I do (Ecclesiastes 5:18),
  • great people to work with every day who care as much about what we’re doing as I do and for the same reason (I Thessalonians 3:2),
  • the many people who support me and what I do through words of encouragement, prayers of intercession, and financial support (II Corinthians 8:1-5)
  • friends of all kinds and in so many places who in so many ways bless and enrich my life and who stick with me in all the ups and downs (Proverbs 17:17)
  • the material goods that keep me fed, clothed, and sheltered (I Timothy 6:8)
  • Moose, the little dog, who every time I come down in the morning or come home at night, wags his tail at me,
  • parents who pointed me to God, provided for more than my needs, encouraged me in every endeavor, and loved me (Proverbs 22:6, Psalm 16:6),
  • a daughter who has brought so much fun and laughter into our home, but whose life God has used to teach me more about myself that I needed to learn than perhaps anyone else on this earth (Psalm 127:3)
  • a beautiful wife who in so many ways exudes Jesus to me, particularly in the way she loves me, deeply and unconditionally and forever (Proverbs 18:22) and
  • a Savior, Jesus, who assures me of a righteousness that is not of my own, but a gift – the ultimate gift – through which I will meet with joy and a thankful heart the Heavenly Father from whom all these blessings flow (Philippians 3:9; James 1:17).

I am a blessed man whose heart could not be anything other than thankful.

From all of us at FACT, may this be a time of great thanksgiving for you as well.