What does Thanksgiving bring to mind for you? Larger-than-life parade balloons? Turkey-induced, temporary comas? Football rivalries? Overly romanticized stories of pilgrims and Indians sharing a harvest feast? Whatever you associate with the celebration that kicks off the holiday season, for the Christian, thanksgiving is not merely a day or a season, but a spiritual posture. Of course, we are under no biblical obligation to express our thankfulness by filling our bellies with turkey and dressing, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie, but we are called to be a people defined by gratitude and generosity. Consider the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:6–11:
 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Christians should primarily be a people of gratitude because of the great love God has shown us through Christ. “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). A genuine understanding of what God has done for us in sending his Son to die in our place should produce a heart that never gets over the beauty of the Gospel and never ceases to be appreciative for it. If you find yourself lacking a heart of gratitude for the Gospel, passages like Ephesians 1 and Romans 8 are beautiful reminders that will make the redeemed heart sing.
When the foundation of our gratitude is our eternal adoption and the subsequent spiritual blessings we have in Christ, material blessings “grow strangely dim.” We are called to express our appreciation for these blessings frequently, not because God somehow needs our affirmation of his generosity, but because we need to be reminded that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Showing gratitude is an act of intentional humility, expressing our dependence on and satisfaction in our Greatest Treasure.
One of the best ways we can show gratitude for all we have been given is by being satisfied with it. To be sure, contentment is difficult because it is staunchly at odds with our consumer-driven culture. Even popular, allegedly Christian teachings often elevate the pursuit of what we don’t yet have as somehow seeking a destiny of blessing. After all, doesn’t Psalm 37:4 teach you to “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart"? Well, the beautiful paradox of this is that the more you delight yourself in the Lord, the more HE BECOMES the desire of your heart. As Jesus taught in Matthew 6:21, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And when Christ becomes our treasure, we find deep and lasting satisfaction in him. This is why the Psalmist can recount the joys of knowing the Good Shepherd and proclaim “I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1). Does this mean we shouldn’t ever desire material blessings? After all, didn’t Jesus teach us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread”? Sure he did. And God wants us to enjoy the things he has given us. But here’s the difference in sinful discontentment and sanctified ambition: eternal perspective. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?...But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25, 33).
Overflowing generosity is the (super)natural byproduct of a thankful, content heart. Paul says that generosity proves that our love is genuine (2 Corinthians 8:8). To those whom so much has been given in Christ, we should not be able to keep ourselves from giving freely to others. Since God is the provider of all we have anyway, we should hold what we have in an open hand so that he can put in and take out as he sees fit. However, generosity is not only being willing to give, but taking practical steps to be able to give, which means being a good steward of what we have been given. God blesses you so that he can “supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10), not so we can hoard it up. God’s blessings are like garden fertilizer; if we pile them up they just stink and don’t do any good, but if we spread them around they produce a beautiful harvest.
When the Pilgrims finally reached North America in November 1620 after over 3 months of miserable life at sea, they joined together in singing Psalm 100, which calls us to:
 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. (ESV)
May this be the spirit of gratitude that defines us as followers of Christ, both as we begin the holiday season and year-round.