When I was a kid, I never understood why my mother looked forward to Christmas, considering my sister and I were the ones who usually got most of the gifts. For my mother, Christmas was shopping, organizing and keeping track of lists to ensure that each child received an equal share. Once I finally began to recognize some of what she was doing behind the scenes, it just seemed like an awful lot of work. Not to mention the near all-nighters she and my father would pull on Christmas Eve. After spending the first half of the night waiting for my adrenaline-soaked brain to finally succumb to sleep, they would spend the second half laying out gifts and transforming the living room into a winter wonderland.
I still remember the first time I asked her about it. She just smiled and told me that her favorite Christmas gift was watching the excitement on our faces on Christmas morning. As I grew up and had children of my own, I began to get a sense of what she was talking about. I don’t know if I would say the excitement on my children’s faces is the greatest gift I’ve ever received, but there are few things more satisfying than watching someone you love delight in something you’ve done for them. My mother understood this. She knew one of the most impactful ways to show gratitude for a gift someone has given you is by delighting in it.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote a lot about giving thanks. Every letter he wrote contains at least one reference to giving thanks. In a few passages, Paul even seems to float the suggestion that thanksgiving can make a significant moral difference.
For example, in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul addresses the issue of eating food that has been sacrificed to idols. According to the religious leaders of his day, this was a serious offense, but in verse 27, Paul writes, “If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.”
Did you get that? Don’t worry about whether or not it has been sacrificed to idols. If someone sets food before you, delight in the hospitality they’ve shown to you, revel in the blessing God is giving you through them. For Paul, the virtue of genuine delight has the power to override even the most serious ceremonial misstep.
Paul continues in verse 30, saying, “If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
For some of us, it may sound strange to imagine delight as a virtue. It’s easy for us to fall back on the idea that the only way to properly demonstrate our commitment to God is through rigid self-denial. To be sure, there are times God calls us to restraint. However, Scripture also calls for thanksgiving in every situation, and what better way to give thanks than by delighting in God’s good gifts?
Isn’t this one of the guiding principles behind our Thanksgiving celebrations? On Thanksgiving Day, we indulge in the blessings we’ve been given, delighting in God’s good gifts to us. It would be irresponsible – probably even sinful – to regularly eat the way most of us do on Thanksgiving Day. However, as an intentional act of thanksgiving, maybe this kind of indulgence can actually become a holy pursuit
So perhaps this year, that extra piece of pie can be an act of thanksgiving. Maybe delighting in that over-the-top expensive new dress that makes you feel like a million bucks or the extravagant new car you’ve spent years saving for can be an act of worship. My mother knew that there is often no better way to give thanks than by delighting in the gift we’ve been given. So this holiday season, don’t forget to delight in God’s blessings to you. Don’t fail to remember that the earth and everything in it belongs to God and that everything we have is a gift. Don’t be afraid to delight in what you have because God delights in us when we delight in Him.