It is truly wonderful that our nation takes an entire day each year to give thanks for what we have. We give thanks to God for our means of making a living. We give thanks for health and healing. We give thanks for the prosperity of our nation and for the freedoms we enjoy. We give thanks for our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our community. Actually once we get started thinking of the things that God provides for us, for which we are thankful, it is hard to stop. And so it is right and proper for us to spend some time contemplating and celebrating our thankfulness for what God has provided.
However, thankfulness may not be enough for the person who is aware of how much our Creator invests in our daily lives. It may be more complete to say the appropriate response to the wondrous work of the Creator is to thank, praise, serve, and obey him. Thankfulness starts us on the right road. But our response to God is not just thanks.
When we really see what God is up to in our lives we are going to want to do more than thank him. We are going to want to praise him. We want to voice our wonder and joy in his gifts in both verbal and aesthetic ways. We will want our lives to reflect our praise of him in the way we live.
We will also want to serve him by how we live our lives. Our service to others through our jobs, through our families, through our congregation and community is part of how this becomes real. It is a daily opportunity for us in recognition of the wonder God has built into creation itself.
The ultimate expression of thanks to God is obedience. This does not mean blind observation of what some call God’s law. Neither is it slavish adherence to somebody’s idea of Christian ethics. We are too enslaved by sin to fool ourselves with those notions. What we mean by obedience means that we hear and act on God’s gracious call to us. As Christians the Holy Spirit lives in us and He is working to direct our lives. Our joy and wonder in the Creator and the amazing salvation we have in Jesus prompts us to listen to God’s voice with in us. When we hear and obey, often to our own amazement, then a true response to God happens. It is a response that goes beyond thanks all the way to praise, service, and obedience.
I Believe that God has created me and all that exists, that he has given me and still preserves my body and soul, my eyes and ears, my reason and all my senses, together with food and clothing, home and family, and all my property. Every day he provides abundantly for all the needs of my life. He protects me from all danger, and guards and keeps me from every evil. He does this purely out of fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, though I do not deserve it. Therefore, I ought to thank, praise, serve, and obey him. This is most certainly true. (Martin Luther – Small Catechism)