Praying HandsAdmittedly, this is the cheesiest title I’ve ever come up with (I hope that’s undisputed!). And yet, cheesy though it is, it says exactly what I need said—like any good greeting card.

Nationwide, we are indeed thankful at Thanksgiving time. We gather with our families (when possible) and take some time to rest from our constant labor and enjoy the goodness of life. We have much for which to give thanks, and we make an effort to focus on our thanks at the end of November. In my family, we actually go around the table before our Thanksgiving meal and share those things for which we are most thankful. For us, it’s a rich time shared with people we love.

But for all the expression of thanks, I wonder how deep seated it is. It’s one thing to say you’re thankful; it’s another to truly be thankful. How can you tell the difference? I wonder if simply looking at your daily life wouldn’t be enough to settle the issue.

Are you thankful for you family? You won’t deny that. Your children, parents, siblings, cousins, etc. are a gift from God. But what concrete details of your life demonstrate that you are indeed thankful for your family? When you are home with your children, are you on the floor with blocks and matchbox cars, or are you busy thumbing the remote control? Do you consistently serve your spouse out of sheer joy that God has gifted him or her to you as a life partner? Or do you regularly grumble—inwardly or outwardly—about this or that mannerism or oversight?

Are you thankful for the food and provisions that God has given you on Thanksgiving Day and all year long? Of course you are! But what do you have to show for this thankfulness? Do you get excited about the food on your table every day of your life? Have you done anything to ensure that any other person on this planet can be thankful for the same type of gift? When you miss a meal, whether by virtue of a busy schedule or by a planned fast, do you feel a renewed sense of appreciation that good food is only ever one quick decision away? Do you care for your older model car as the gift from God that it is? Do you work hard at your job, treating it as a God-ordained means of provision for your life? Or have you been grumbling about your perpetually delayed promotion? Perhaps you’ve been quietly simmering over driving a car that’s several years behind in features and in fashion?

Say what you want about Thanksgiving. Express your thanks about anything at all—you have much to be thankful for. But at some point, do a quick inventory on your thankful actions. If your best friend, your spouse, your children, or your parents would have a hard time pointing to any action that demonstrates true thankfulness, maybe it’s time to turn the thanksgiving into thanksliving, if you will (and believe me, I understand if you won’t).

To borrow and tweak a phrase from James: Thanks without works is dead. If anyone says he has thanks, but has no works, can that thanks be considered admissible around the Thanksgiving table? I submit that it cannot. So as you sit around your congested dining room table this Thursday, before you slip into your Turkey-coma, consider those priceless blessings in your life and find a way to live thanks for them.

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Mark Beuving currently serves as Associate Pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, CA. Prior to going back into pastoral ministry, Mark spent ten years on staff at Eternity Bible College as a Campus Pastor, Dean of Students, and then Associate Professor. Mark now teaches online adjunct for Eternity. He is passionate about building up the body of Christ, training future leaders for the Church, and writing. Though he is interested in many areas of theology and philosophy, Mark is most fascinated with practical theology and exploring the many ways in which the Bible can speak to and transform our world. He is the author of "Resonate: Enjoying God's Gift of Music" and the co-author with Francis Chan of "Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples." Mark lives in Rocklin with his wife and two daughters.