In a few weeks we will enjoy another national holiday, Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving holiday has some deep roots here in the United States that lie in English traditions.
The Bible tells of special days set apart in the Old Testament to give thanks for special blessings that were considered to come from God. The annual Thanksgiving tradition that we celebrate here in the United States is documented as far back as 1619. Our trusted traditions can be traced back to the pilgrims and Puritans who came here from England. Historians tell us that Thanksgiving in 1621 in Plymouth Massachusetts was prompted by a great harvest.
When you talk about Thanksgiving with family and friends, the conversation will naturally turn to turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and some good comfy sweatpants to curl up on the couch after the meal is over. However, Thanksgiving is usually the starting point for what is commonly known as the “season of giving.”
During the holiday season, there are many opportunities and invitations to practice giving and generosity. Notable landmarks include bell-ringed red cauldrons, toy ride drop-off points, and plenty of opportunities to donate items to the local food bank. There is no denying that the spirit of giving and generosity is at a high level at this time of year.
Unfortunately, once December 26 shows up, this wonderful spirit of generosity seems to disappear faster than Christmas leftovers. Imagine what could happen in the world, in our country, in our state, in our city and in our own neighborhoods if we could change the way we think about generosity.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m always amazed at how generous and generous people can be at this time of year. I just wonder what we could do to keep this spirit of generosity rolling all year round instead of just a few weeks.
In 2 Corinthians, chapter 9:6 it says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows liberally will also reap generously.” Verse 11 says, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous at every opportunity, and through us your generosity will result in Thanksgiving to God.”
What would our lives be like if we had the mindset to be generous at every opportunity? How would you be generous? Do you immediately think about what could come out of your wallet or purse? This text says that we will be “enriched in every way”, which tells me that we should not limit our thinking to money alone when we think of being generous.
We can be generous by devoting our time to volunteering with an organization that has an impact on blessing others. We can be generous with our compliments to the people we meet. We can certainly be generous with acts of kindness, words of praise, and showing love and forgiveness, especially to those who may have hurt us in our past.
I believe that God is probably not that impressed or interested in how much we give as we walk this path we call life. God always looks at our hearts, which means he is more interested in why we are generous. In the book of Matthew chapter 6:21 it says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I believe that God always calls us to be considerate of others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves. Perhaps generosity has nothing to do with an amount, but more with our attitude. This is why when we give of ourselves and offer things money cannot buy, such as our time and our love, God sees a heart filled with compassion, generosity and, of course, gratitude to the Lord for all He has done. A small change of mind about generosity can change everything.
May you be abundantly blessed during this wonderful season of giving, generosity and of course Thanksgiving.
The Rev. John Parille is the senior pastor of the Bethel United Methodist Church.