The Thanksgiving holiday reminds us to be grateful. It reminds us of the tremendous abundance with which we have been blessed. It reminds us that God gives out of an overflowing sense of grace. We celebrate these gifts…we feast…and we move into the season of Advent, hopefully remembering these important lessons from the season.
But there is a “part II” of the lessons of Thanksgiving that in our rush towards Christmas, we often blow right past.
Thanksgiving should remind us that as we have received out of God’s abundance, we should give out of our abundance. That the gratitude we feel should motivate us to share with others from what we have been given.
Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever. – 2 Corinthians 9:7-9
Blaise Pascal was a mathematician, physicist, inventor and writer who lived in the mid 1600’s. He was also a person of strong faith. His love for God drove him to love for the poor. “I love poverty” he said, “because he (Christ) loved it. I like wealth because it gives a means to assist the needy.” Increasingly Pascal deprived himself so that he could give more. He sold his coach and horses, his fine furniture and silverware, and even his library in order to give to the poor. When he received an advance of 1000 francs for his work, he sent the money to the poor in Blois, who had suffered from a bitter winter. He then signed over his interest in the company to the hospitals of Paris and Clermont.
When Pascal died at the age of 39 on August 19, 1662 his funeral was attended by family, friends, scientific colleagues, worldly companions, converts, writers, and the back of the church was filled with the poor, each and every person there someone Pascal had helped during his life.
It might have been enough for Pascal to merely be grateful. But it wasn’t enough for Pascal. His gratitude to God inspired him to give everything he had…to empty himself into the lives of others.
Because Jesus poured himself out, into us, we are motived to live lives of Thanksgiving, every day. It is not an event, it is a lifestyle. Neither gratitude nor generosity should be limited to a day, or a season. It is the way of a disciple.
This season (and beyond,) take a look at what you have, and wonder about your capacity to share with those in need.
May the gratitude we’ve experienced this last week, bring peace and joy not only to ourselves, but to those around us…those in need.