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Thanksgiving Part 1: Reflections from Francis Schaeffer

November 11, 2021
By Brian Fitzgerald, Discipleship Director

Ten years ago, I was blessed to read Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality, and revisiting portions of it in this season leading to Thanksgiving is timely and appropriate. Schaeffer wrestles through questions such as “Can God really change lives?” and “Did Christianity really make any difference in my life?” It’s one thing to talk truthfully about Christianity, but it’s another thing to live it consistently. If I’m not living it consistently, then what good is doctrinal accuracy? As believers, we’ve all struggled with such things at one time or another. If now is one of those times, then perhaps these insights from Schaeffer will be a timely encouragement, especially as we prepare our minds and hearts for a special season of thanksgiving.

“The beginning of man’s rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart.” Schaeffer makes this observation in the context of Romans 1:21 where Paul says, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Thankfulness and contentment are the proper responses of creatures before their Creator. Today, am I content and thankful in my circumstances? Or am I resentful or distrusting? Lord, give me today a thankful heart for all that You are and for all that You’ve done!

“If the contentment goes and the giving of thanks goes, we are not loving God as we should, and proper desire has become coveting against God.” Lacking a thankful heart does not leave us in a neutral state. Lacking thankfulness means that we’re coveting—our good desires have been hijacked and taken captive by those things which ought not have them. Coveting, like all sin, is dehumanizing because it robs us of the good things for which God designed us, and it’s a defiance against God’s purposes and calling on my life. Few things are as ugly as an image-bearer railing against his Creator and the created order of His universe. Thankfulness is humanizing (or re-humanizing) because it reorients us properly before God as His image-bearers and as His children.

I forget who said it, but someone said that the Christian life is essentially a life that says, “thank you,” to God and then continues to say “thank you.” There’s little room for sin, rebellion, and ugliness in a thankful heart.

“In everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).