Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Jonathan Swift on Thanksgiving

In the classic book, Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift gives us his opinion of ingratitude to friends and benefactors when he describes the laws of the “Lilliputians” in this way:

Ingratitude is reckoned among them a capital crime; for they reason this, that whoever makes ill return to his friends and benefactors must needs be the enemy to the rest of mankind, from whom he hath received no obligation. And, therefore, such a man is not fit to live.”

Dr. David Soper, in his book, God Is Inescapable, suggests that basically the difference between a prison and a monastery is just the difference between griping and gratitude. Undoubtedly, this is true. Imprisoned criminals spend every waking moment griping; self-imprisoned saints spend every waking moment offering thanks. Dr. Soper says,

When a criminal becomes a saint, a prison becomes a monastery; when a saint gives up gratitude, a monastery becomes a prison.”

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! I trust that is will be a wonderful day for you. I think that of all holidays, I enjoy Thanksgiving more than any other. We use this day as a family to set up our Christmas trees (I have to use the plural there because my wife is a Christmas tree fanatic who desire a Christmas tree in every room within our house). Add to this the turkey and football and then the day after in which Laura and I always spend out fighting the crowds at the stores (we just love that kind of thing) and you have one tremendous Holiday! And after all, it should be. But as we enter this special day tomorrow, here are some quotes to help us focus our thoughts on the need to give thanks in everything:

Thanksgiving unlocks the power of God’s grace. When we take time to count our blessings, suddenly we are overwhelmed by the knowledge of God’s goodness and our own unworthiness. We realize that the God of the universe has chosen to grace our lives with good things in spite of our sinful disobedience. He remains faithful to us even when we do not give Him the praise and thanks He deserves.” (Jerry Falwell)

However, there is at least one other important reason why we should be thankful to God. To acknowledge His goodness is to see Him as He is and to take our rightful places as His wholly dependent subjects.” (George Sweeting)

Thanksgiving thoughts are often sighs of relief that we aren’t like others: living in a politically oppressed society; starving in a famine-wasted land; fighting a debilitating disease; or driving a rusted and battered car. True thanksgiving doesn’t begin with human comparisons, but with God, the giver of life and all that is good.” (Terry Hall)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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