Thanksgiving Through the Eyes of Jesus: Words of Wisdom for the Dinner Table

Thanksgiving Through the Eyes of Jesus: Words of Wisdom for the Dinner Table November 22, 2023

Imagine you had Jesus come to your Thanksgiving table. What would He say? What wisdom would He share?|Photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash

Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather around the dinner table and express gratitude for the blessings in their lives. As we celebrate this special holiday, let us take a moment to reflect on the teachings of Jesus and how they can guide our conversations and interactions on this day and the days to come. Jesus’ message of love, compassion, and unity is particularly relevant as we come together to give thanks.

Jesus Taught on the Importance of Gratitude

Gratitude is a central theme in Jesus’ teachings. He often encouraged His followers to give thanks to God for His abundant blessings. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus heals ten lepers, but only one returns to express gratitude. Jesus asks:

“Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17, NIV)

This story reminds us of the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the blessings in our lives. All the men were healed, but only one returned to thank his Healer. Let us all remember to be like this one, and not the other nine.

We also see Jesus Himself offering thanks to God in the Gospels. Consider His prayer right before He raised Lazarus from the dead.

“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me.” (John 11:41-42, NIV)

Jesus knew that God was getting ready to do something spectacular, which would lead many people to come to believe in Him. And He chose to thank His Father in advance.

As we gather around the dinner table on Thanksgiving, let us follow Jesus’ example by expressing gratitude for the food we have, the company of our loved ones, and the many other blessings we often take for granted. Let us also remember to thank Him for what He has done and what He is going to do in our lives. God loves to show up and supply all our wants and needs.

By cultivating an attitude of gratitude, we can create an atmosphere of joy and appreciation that will enrich our Thanksgiving celebrations and improve our relationship with God throughout the year.

Jesus’ Message of Love and Unity

Jesus consistently emphasized the importance of love and unity in His teachings. He taught His followers to love one another as God loves them (see John 13:34-35). This message is particularly relevant during Thanksgiving, as families and friends come together, sometimes with differing opinions and perspectives.

At the dinner table, let us remember Jesus’ words and strive for unity rather than division. Let us remember His prayer for us in John 17.

“My prayer is not for them [the 12 disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23, NIV)

One of the last things on His mind, before He went to die on the cross for us, was that His followers would be unified. And see how our unity is tied to other people’s belief in Him? We will not successfully lead other people to God if we refuse to see eye to eye with them, or at the very least agree to disagree.

So, instead of engaging in heated arguments or focusing on our differences, let us focus on our shared values and the love that binds us together. By approaching all conversations with love and respect, we can foster an environment of understanding and unity. This will create safe, God-honoring, spaces at our Thanksgiving gatherings.

Jesus’ Teachings on Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Thanksgiving is an opportune time to reflect on Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus emphasized the importance of forgiving others and seeking reconciliation. In the Lord’s Prayer, He taught His disciples to pray:

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, NIV)

Later, in the same passage, Jesus says:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15, NIV)

It would do us all well to remember that forgiveness is not only an act of compassion. Rather, it is an essential aspect of our own spiritual growth and our relationship with our Father.

As we gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving, let us be mindful of any unresolved conflicts or grudges we may be holding onto. Let this be a time of healing and reconciliation, as we extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us and seek forgiveness from those we have hurt. By following Jesus’ example, we can experience the true joy and peace that comes from letting go of resentment and embracing forgiveness.

Jesus’ Perspective on Abundance and Sharing During Thanksgiving

In his teachings, Jesus often spoke about abundance and the importance of sharing what we have with others. He performed miracles such as feeding thousands with just a few loaves of bread and fish (see Matthew 14). These acts of abundance and generosity demonstrated his belief in the power of sharing what we have with others.

He also strongly warned against materialism and hoarding what we have, instead of using it for the good of others.

Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15, NIV)

In Matthew 6, Jesus similarly instructs:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV)

As we enjoy the bountiful Thanksgiving feast, let us remember those who are less fortunate. Let us extend a helping hand to those in need, whether through volunteering, donating to charity, or simply reaching out to someone who may be feeling lonely. By sharing our blessings with others, we honor Jesus’ teachings and embody the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

Let us ask ourselves where our hearts truly are. Hopefully, we will be able to answer honestly that our hearts are with Him.

How Jesus Would Encourage Compassion and Serving Others on Thanksgiving

Jesus was compassionate and selfless, always putting the needs of others before His own. He encouraged his followers to do the same, teaching them to serve one another with humility and love (see John 13:15). This message is particularly relevant during Thanksgiving, a time when we can actively demonstrate compassion and service to those around us.

Consider the compassion Jesus felt in the following passages:

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14, NIV)

Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” (Matthew 15:32, NIV)

Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (Mark 1:41, NASB1995)

When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” (Luke 7:13, NASB1995)

As we gather around the dinner table, let us seek opportunities to serve others. We may not be able to work in the miraculous strength Jesus exhibited, but we can all do something for someone else. Whether it’s helping with the cooking, setting the table, or simply lending a listening ear to someone in need, let us embody Jesus’ teachings of compassion and selflessness. By serving others, we not only make a positive impact on their lives. We also get to experience the joy that comes from giving.

Remember Humility and Gratitude for Our Blessings at Thanksgiving

Jesus often reminded his followers of the importance of humility and gratitude. He cautioned against pride and materialism, instead urging His disciples to be grateful for the blessings they had received. This message is particularly relevant for us to consider during Thanksgiving, since this is a time when we may be tempted to focus on material possessions, rather than the true meaning of the holiday.

As we gather around the dinner table, let us practice humility and gratitude. Let us reflect on the blessings we have received, both big and small, and express our gratitude to God and to those around us. By cultivating a spirit of humility and gratitude, we can shift our focus from material possessions to the true significance of Thanksgiving – a time to appreciate the love and relationships that enrich our lives.

Applying Jesus’ Teachings to Our Thanksgiving Celebrations

Now that we have explored some key teachings of Jesus and their relevance to Thanksgiving, let us consider how we can apply these teachings to our own celebrations.

Here are some practical tips:

  1. Start Thanksgiving with a moment of prayer or reflection, expressing gratitude for the blessings in your life.
  2. Create an atmosphere of love and unity by focusing on shared values and avoiding contentious topics.
  3. Seek reconciliation with family and friends, letting go of past hurts and embracing forgiveness.
  4. Share your blessings with others by volunteering, donating, or reaching out to those in need.
  5. Serve others with compassion and humility, finding ways to help and uplift those around you.
  6. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude and humility, appreciating the true meaning of Thanksgiving beyond material possessions.

By incorporating these practices, we can create a Thanksgiving celebration that reflects the teachings of Jesus and brings joy, love, and gratitude to our dinner tables.

Embrace Jesus’ Teachings this Thanksgiving Season

As we gather around the dinner table on Thanksgiving, let us remember the teachings of Jesus and strive to embody His messages of love, unity, forgiveness, sharing, compassion, humility, and gratitude. By inviting Him to our dinner tables and incorporating His wisdom into our celebrations, we can deepen the spiritual meaning behind our Thanksgiving celebration and create lasting memories with our loved ones.

This Thanksgiving season, let us pause and reflect on Jesus’ words of wisdom. Let us be grateful for the blessings in our lives, extend love and forgiveness to others, and share our abundance with those in need. By following Jesus’ teachings, we can truly experience the transformative power of Thanksgiving and honor the spirit of the holiday.

So, as you prepare for your Thanksgiving celebration, remember the words of Jesus and let them guide your interactions and conversations at the dinner table. May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, gratitude, and the joy that comes from embracing the wisdom of Jesus.

About Mishael Austin Witty
Mishael Austin Witty is a lover of Jesus, cats, coffee, and books. She is a wife to one man and mother of two girls. She serves as a discipleship coach, Sunday School teacher, children's church helper, worship leader, and food pantry organizer. You can read more about the author here.

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