I can remember when my twin brother and I were children sitting at the old Walmart in Shelby, NC, while mom shopped. We would often play the simple game of Heads or Tails: Flip a coin and make call, heads or tails.
As I have thought about those coin tosses, I have pictured those coins in my mind. I can see one coin with two sides.
At Thanksgiving and in November we focus on the theme of gratitude. Gratitude for all that God has, is, and will do in our lives and the life of the church. However, the full picture of gratitude cannot be realized unless we see the other side of the coin—generosity.
God is generous to each of us. We know of this generosity most fully in God’s love, grace, and mercy that comes through Jesus. It is because of Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection that we have forgiveness, that we are given new life, and that we know that we are beloved by God.
It is in our gratitude for God’s generosity that something amazing happens. As we follow Jesus, we begin to embody the same giving and renewing Spirit in our lives with others.
It is through living lives of thank-filled-service that we are able to model God’s generosity.
Such gratitude and generosity goes against the culture of our day. Our society seems more occupied on airing complaints about the brokenness of the world rather than seeking the goodness of what God is doing to redeem the world.
People are more concerned with getting more than giving more. Sometimes if we are not careful, we, too, can become trapped in those attitudes and complaints. So if you find yourself mirroring such behaviors, ask yourself, “How would my attitudes change if before I made any comments about what is happening in politics, the economy, or in our own work and families, I prefaced everything with a simple prayer of gratitude to God?”
I hope that you will take time this month to reflect on how much in Christ we have to be thankful. Ask yourself: “In what ways can my gratitude for the goodness of God help reshape my focus from the negative to the positive?” “How can seeing the whole of the coin, gratitude and generosity, help me move from complaining about the problems of the world to serving others to help make the world know God’s love through my actions?”
As you gather with your families to celebrate our American tradition of Thanksgiving, I hope that in the midst of turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and dessert, you will take time to share a word of gratitude for what God is doing in the life of your family. In addition, as families, I hope you will take time to show God your gratitude by generously serving others in the name of Jesus.
Take time to flip the coin of God’s love. See the God’s generosity. Respond with gratitude! With thanksgiving for each of you!
By Jeremiah Childers
Minister of Education and Senior Adults
Inman First Baptist Church