R.C. Sproul Jr., the son of R.C. Sproul, wrote a Christianized Thanksgiving post (click here) for Ligonier Ministries last year. In that post, Sproul complained that sinful man is more troubled by what he does than who he is. His point here is that we seem to be content with ourselves if we don't act on sinful thoughts and impulses. And being so content, we underestimate who we are as sinners and who God is as a gracious savior. So if we were to really grasp all of this, we would have the most solid grounds for giving thanks and our thanksgiving would last all year round. And failure to be thankful is one of the most serious sins we can commit.
Sproul has a point here. We give ourselves false assurance over the sins we have refrained from committing even though our thoughts and feelings betray and condemn us. We are thoroughly sinful and knowing this helps us appreciate God's grace and that appreciation is the 'root' of our joy.
Likewise, Sproul points out that our level of thanks is all too often based on what is being done or not being done to us and what we are or are not getting. How comfortable are we? Are we getting what we dream of? All too often, the answers to these questions cause us to fail to be thankful. Thus, if we are to realize what God has done for and promised us in Christ, we should have a joy that produces a lifestyle of being thankful.
In all of the above, Sproul is right. But being right does not prevent one from being incomplete in what they teach. Whether Sproul says in other places what we will say here or not, we should point out that we should not base how we help others entirely on what he has written thus far. For if we do, for if we respond to those in need solely by teaching them how to be grateful in all circumstances because of what Christ has done for us, then we would have ignored James's warning in James 2:14-26.
In the passage cited above, while telling us that faith without works is dead, to not help those in need with physical goods when we can is to possess a dead faith. So while Sproul points out that the refraining from doing wrong can mislead us regarding our sinfulness, refraining from doing right can instruct us regarding the kind of faith we have. And we need both messages here because all too often the Church has held back from being involved with providing earthly help to people when it could because of its focus on Christ meeting our spiritual needs. However, if we are to read James, we find that such an abstinence shows our sinfulness just as much as harboring wrong thoughts and feelings as well as not being grateful to God.
Some look at Thanksgiving Day as a chance to help those in need by helping to feed the hungry. If we add that thought to Sproul's admonition to make Thanksgiving a lifestyle rather than a holiday, then not only should be grateful all year round, we should help those in need, those who cannot pay us back, all year round too.
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10