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Practising thanksgiving

October 10, 2014 No Comment

by Thomas Prachar

President Prachar

President Prachar

Is it just me or have manners become a thing of the past? I recently read a novel in which the author sets part of his story back in the mid-to-late 1950s. As he describes the politeness of some of the young people, it struck me as something missing today. Attitudes and actions like being courteous and polite seem to have fallen by the wayside.

Part of this, I think, is due to the fact that manners are seen more and more by society as a sign of weakness. It’s hard to be strong and to stand up for your rights when you are constantly saying “excuse me,” or “please,” or “thank you.” It also may be a sign that parents have not been successful in teaching manners or even modelling good manners to their children. Although I’m not sure if there have been any scientific studies done on the subject, with the fact that many people today communicate through cell phones and tablets, Twitter and Facebook, rather than face-to-face, there is a possibility that people don’t get a chance to practise their manners.

I’m of the opinion that manners improve the more they are put into practice. And so, as I write this with a national day of thanksgiving on the horizon, we have an excellent opportunity to give our manners a little exercise. Even though there is nothing stopping us from doing such a thing every day, we have the opportunity to take a moment and say thank you to God for all the blessings He has showered upon us.

But we have short memories of how tough life could be on the farm years ago. We have forgotten the low points in our lives and those days when we weren’t sure from where our next meal was coming. We have a selective amnesia: choosing to forget the times we received help, and turning a blind eye to those same people who now need our assistance. In the midst of plenty we complain loud and long to God that we don’t have enough.

And even if we had absolutely nothing—no food to eat, no change of clothes, no roof over our heads—we could still be thankful for the way our God has treated us. He puts up with our bad manners, our complaints, our ingratitude, and He continues to love us. He knows that our sinful nature does not recognize Him as the gracious Giver of all that we have. And so He sends yet another blessing: His own Son, sent into this world to be our Saviour, to save us from the damning consequences of our sinful bad manners. Jesus willingly went to the cross, there to suffer and die, paying the price we could not pay for our sin. By His innocent suffering and death our Saviour earned forgiveness for us—forgiveness given to all who believe in Him.

Even if we had absolutely nothing—no food to eat, no change of clothes, no roof over our heads—we could still be thankful for the way our God has treated us. He puts up with our bad manners, our complaints, our ingratitude, and He continues to love us.

Often it is in prayer that our good manners are honed and developed. When financial woes come our way, we don’t complain to God in prayer. We tell Him our needs and sprinkle those requests with thanks for the blessings He has already given us. These good manners carry over into our contact with other people. Instead of complaining about their bad behaviour or manners, we pray for them. Our Christ-like manner reflects kindness and love to those who have physical or emotional needs. Our manners show respect for our elders, our parents, the government, or anyone in authority over us. Indeed, our whole attitude about life undergoes a change as we look at our life and salvation as precious gifts from a gracious Heavenly Father, gifts for which we cannot thank Him enough.

The apostle Paul encourages us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). With that in mind, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Rev. Thomas Prachar is President of the Central District of Lutheran Church–Canada.