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By Joe O’Neal

It’s officially the season of thankfulness. For our agrarian ancestors, autumn was a very real season of fruitfulness and harvest. A time when the soil’s slow, hidden work came bursting forth in fullness. The patient planting, watering, tending and waiting, now transformed into ready abundance. God at work in the waiting, quietly creating new provisions, new mercies. 

And though we may not all be farmers, the same is true for us today. God at work, providing, giving, blessing, saving.

Each year, as families, friends and communities, we come together at the end of harvest to partake in all the good things God has brought forth for us and to be thankful to Him for His good gifts. Not just physical blessings like food and clothing, but literally EVERYTHING we have is a gift from God. And lest we be tempted to think that we ‘have less blessing’ than we think we should have, consider this: we were born into this world without anything, completely dependent on others. Naked. Birthday suit. No pants and no pockets to keep our ‘nothing’ in.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return.”

-Job 1:21a

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?   - 1 Corinthians 4:7b

For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.

-Genesis 3:19

As we humbly recognize that all we have has been given to us, our talent, our education, our time, our intellect, our wealth, our resources, our salvation, we humbly bow our heads and give thanks to God. 

For many of us, this may be a familiar practice, and rightly so. But perhaps too often, we don’t move beyond a simple expression of thanks and into the deeper fullness of gratitude that causes us to consider the following:

In light of the lavish blessings that the Lord has heaped upon us, what is our responsibility?

At Summit one of our five Discipleship Outcomes is Stewardship of Life.

We define Stewardship of Life as:

Faithfully using everything God has entrusted to us to reflect His glory.  

(verb) to manage or look after another's property

If we’re going to understand what it means to move into real thanksgiving, we have to recognize that what we ‘have’ actually still belongs to the King who entrusted it to us to use for His Kingdom purposes. (Matthew 25:14-30) We are to steward the good gifts that God entrusts to us to further His kingdom and be agents of His grace to others.

This year, we need to be reminded that with much provision, comes much responsibility. What abilities has God given to us that we can invest in our church, our communities? What resources has Christ entrusted to us that we can use to meet the needs of the poor and the neglected? Who is in our life that we can make time to disciple? In what ways is God calling us to move beyond simple gratitude and into true thankfulness by humbly opening our hands and hearts toward His kingdom purposes and towards others, including the ‘least of these'?

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ - Matthew 25:40

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” - Luke 12:32-34

When we are faithfully using everything we have for the good of others and the Kingdom of God, He is glorified in us and we find our satisfaction in Him. That’s what true thankfulness looks like.

Psalm 34:8-10

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,

    for those who fear him have no lack!

The young lions suffer want and hunger;

    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.