The Purpose of Thanksgiving
I once recently ran across an article that gave a great answer to the question "what is the purpose of Thanksgiving?" The answer given was this; eating to the brink of explosion, shopping to the brink of bankruptcy, and watching television to the brink of insanity!" That might not be the true purpose of Thanksgiving, but it greatly expresses the reality of what this day has become.
A better answer is that the purpose of Thanksgiving is to give thanks to God. Thanksgiving is a day in which we thank God for the things that He has given us; our homes, our jobs, the feast that is before us. Others might add that it is a day to thank God for people; for our families our friends and all those we care about. Others might add that Thanksgiving is bigger than you and I, but rather a day in which we thank God for our world , for our country, and for all the people who have given their lives for our freedom, and for those who still fight to keep us free. Those are great answers. Those are the types of things Christians tend to focus on at Thanksgiving.
As good and appropriate as those are, however, it still seems to be missing something. God is the greatest giver of gifts. We know that every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:14). But, if God is the greatest giver of gifts, what is the greatest gift that the greatest gift giver gives? The answer is in the Bible; the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). The greatest gift that God gives - the very precious gift that we should be more thankful for than anything else - is Jesus. On Thanksgiving, don't forget to give thanks for Jesus and the gift of eternal life that He gives.
Also, don't neglect the opportunity to use the Thanksgiving meal to preach the Gospel. As you gather with family and friends for your Thanksgiving feast, try to do one of two things. 1 - encourage people to go around the table and express what they are thankful for. When it gets to be your turn, give thanks to God for Jesus. 2 - if you have the opportunity to lead a Thanksgiving prayer, don't only thank God for the food, and the people, and our freedom, and the physical gifts you've received. Thank God also for the forgiveness of sins, the promise of eternal life for all who believe, and for the precious gift of Jesus.
This Thanksgiving, don't forget to give thanks for Jesus, and to join King David in doing what did in Psalm 26:7; proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all Your wondrous deeds!