It was a cold Saturday evening in downtown Atlanta. The homeless shelter kitchen was filled with the down-and-out, men and women with only the clothes on their backs to call their own. Dreary as the weather was outside, inside it was a joyful night with a guest preacher, a youth group to serve dinner and provide singing, and plenty of good food to go around. Not to mention it was warm.
As the service got underway, an offering plate was passed around.
Making it’s way through the gathering, the plate slowly filling with items many of us would consider unconventional. A button, a piece of string from one man’s thread-bare coat, even a scrap of paper picked up from the sidewalk out front. One elderly man acted out the motions of giving although his hands were empty.
Later the shelter’s director explained to volunteers why an offering plate was passed through a gathering of those who obviously had nothing to give.
The congregants at the shelter wanted to give.
Many had trusted Christ as their Savior and wanted to take part in worshiping by giving.
They gave from a heart of thanksgiving for salvation, a warm place to stay the night, and food. They gave less than the widow’s mite (Mark 12:42-44) with smiles, excitement, and hope. Several spoke over the offering plate as it passed, “One day I will have something to put in.”
“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12 NIV
We are called to give thanks in all circumstances, in good times and bad. Giving thanks is not dependent upon what we can give. Giving thanks is to the One who gives all to us with all we have — and it doesn’t just include material things.
Thanksgiving is a form of worship.
Thanksgiving is bowing our life to God Almighty, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords and worshiping Him with our voices, hearts, and giving.
Everything we call our own comes from God and belongs to God.
Nothing, whether the home we live in or the tithe check we write are truly from the work of our own hands. It is all first a gift from Sovereign God. He provides it all to us — the job, home, provision. We simply give back to Him to signify our thanks and respect as a form of worship.
Thanksgiving is a matter of the heart, not a turkey on the table. Thanksgiving is praising God for all that He has done and is doing in our lives daily.
This year may have been hard.
Maybe there was a job loss or there will be an empty chair at this year’s Thanksgiving gathering. Troubles and trials visit us all. Giving thanks can be hard when hearts are broken. It is in the giving of thanks the supremacy of God is revealed and hearts are comforted.
In all circumstances, sisters, in all circumstances let us give thanks.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. Philippians 4:12 NIV
Thankful for strings and buttons.
Be thankful that He was faithful yesterday and will be tomorrow. Thankful for providing strings and buttons to offer Him gladly because He alone has filled our hearts with joy and peace. Thankful we are loved eternally and our very names are written on the palms of His hands. Thankful He knows where we are and does not forget us in a homeless shelter or mansion. Thankful for Jesus — without Him we are lost and condemned to hell. He is our all in all, our Savior.
The greatest thanks we can give is a heart surrendered to Him, offering praise and adoration — not just one day a year.