During American celebrations of Thanksgiving, people commonly count their blessings. As Christians, we give thanks to the Lord for all He has done in our lives and what He has provided to meet our needs, both physical and spiritual. Celebrating the blessings in our lives is a way to worship and glorify God.
However, Scripture makes a connection between the riches we receive in Christ and our ability to give to others (2 Corinthians 8:9). One of the ways we can give thanks to the Lord is by giving help to others.
As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12).
This article includes a list of ideas to offer thanksgiving to God while helping others in need. While we prepare and celebrate a day filled with delicious food and fellowship, let us remember the local and global people we can bless.
1. Provide a Thanksgiving Dinner for Those in Need
One year at church, the members decided to build boxes of Thanksgiving dinners for local families. My family and I gave food items and were delighted with the knowledge that we were helping other families have the items they needed for a Thanksgiving feast, including a turkey.
Many churches do similar food drives during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Even if the Thanksgiving drive has ended at your church, you can still buy needed items and save them for the Christmas food drive.
Furthermore, soup kitchens and food pantries can always use supplies to build a festive meal for those in need.
While we can easily overlook the blessing of a warm meal, providing someone in need with food reminds us that we are called to help others in Jesus’ name. When we feed those who are hungry, Jesus counts it as an act done for Him (Matthew 25:35; 40).
Helping others also enables us to shine light into the darkness of the world: “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon” (Isaiah 58:10, NLT).
2. Invite Lonely Neighbors, Coworkers, or Friends to Dinner
When I was a small child, I remember my mother worrying about elderly and lonely people in the neighborhood during Thanksgiving. She was afraid that they had no family or that they would be alone during the holiday.
Because she was concerned for others, she started cooking and preparing a meal for a family friend who was alone for Thanksgiving. My sisters and I would help her load food onto plates wrapped in foil and packed in bags for delivery.
The simple act of considering the needs of others enabled my mother to make a difference in the life of someone else.
Maybe you know an elderly neighbor who lives alone or a coworker with no close family to visit. This Thanksgiving, consider inviting that lonely neighbor, coworker, or friend to dinner. By blessing others with the gift of food and fellowship, then we model God’s love and concern for them.
The Bible talks about how “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6). Through our love for the person who is alone during the holiday season, they can catch a glimpse of the love of Christ reflected through us. We not only fill a stomach with scrumptious food, but we could even be a part of God’s work to fill an empty and hurting heart.
3. Consider Giving on #GivingTuesday
If you have been on social media recently, you may have seen organizations and ministries talking about #GivingTuesday. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, many people participate in this movement to give to help others. This day stands out amid the materialistic focus of days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving.
This year, families and friends could come together on Thanksgiving and the weekend after to pray about the opportunity to give to a Christian organization, ministry, charity, or missions agency.
After celebrating a holiday focused on giving thanks, it is a wonderful time to give as we can help others from a place of gratitude for Jesus’ grace in our life.
When the Apostle Paul thought about giving, he remembered the words of the Lord. As he wrote, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
Participating in #GivingTuesday can help us remember the biblical truth that giving is better than receiving.
Not only can we bless others through our giving, but we also bless our friends and family by showing them that a relationship with Jesus involves loving others “with action and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
4. Commit to Supporting an Organization or Ministry
After praying and giving to an organization on #GivingTuesday, you might find that you are passionate about the cause.
Or you might spend time reflecting on those who live in hunger and decide to partner with a Christian ministry that is working among people around the world to provide them with food and access to the gospel.
Since we are in a global food crisis, committing to regular giving would benefit people whose lives are in danger from a lack of food.
Scripture encourages us to consider the poor and needy. As Proverbs 22:9 says, “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (ESV).
We can help meet a need in our community or across the world through ministries that feed the hungry, help people gain access to clean water, and receive medical care, all while sharing the gospel.
Regardless of if we decide to give to a local or global ministry, we can allow our thankfulness to God for His spiritual and physical provision to overflow into our lives and bless others.
By choosing to support a cause regularly, we can participate in God’s work around the world and make an impact in the lives of others.
Numerous gospel-centered organizations and ministries exist to help with a variety of causes. Your pastor or another church leader could help you find an organization to support through regular giving.
Also, doing research on the internet about ministries or charities you are interested in could give you more information about their mission and financial reliability.
Why Does This Matter?
On Thanksgiving, we focus on giving thanks to God for all our blessings in life. We should praise Him because He has given us eternal life. Jesus died in our place and was resurrected to give us salvation and forgiveness of our sins.
In Scripture, though, thanksgiving to God overflows into blessings for others. One way we can give thanks is to help others with practical needs while also sharing the good news of Jesus.
The wonderful gift that Christ gave us is too wonderful to keep to ourselves. We can touch the lives of others this Thanksgiving by sharing the love of Jesus through a meal, a place at our table, giving selflessly, and committing to helping others through a ministry or organization. Our celebration will be much richer by expressing our love for God by loving others.
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Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Marinela Malcheva
Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.